One man is dead after a dramatic standoff with police in Orange, California.
It all began as a routine traffic stop. According to KTLA, 33-year-old Michael Anthony Perez was stopped around 11:15pm due to a broken taillight and a warrant associated with his license plate number. Perez refused to get out of his ca, and that's when things escalated and took a tragic turn.
Perez reportedly barricaded himself in his car for 30 minutes, and then displayed a lighter and gas container. The Orange Fire Department, fearing that Perez was going to set something on fire, came with a hose to remove him from his car.
“The officers could smell the gasoline and became concerned when he lit a cigarette,” said Lt. Fred Lopez of the Orange police. “We thought it could be combustible, so they felt that a plan needed to be put into place to save his life.”
Perez reportedly reached for a weapon and officers began shooting. He was shot in the upper torso and died later in the hospital.
“What we do know is that at one point when he’s out of the vehicle he reaches behind his back and he does produce a knife — what we now know to be a knife — and an officer-involved shooting ensued shortly after,” the officer explained.
The motive for Lopez's actions remains unclear. Police said he had an "extensive" criminal history that included weapons violations and narcotics. "We don’t know if he was going to commit suicide, if he was going to set the car on fire, all of those things were a possibility and we wanted to avoid that happening."
Lopez is remembered as a father of six. “It’s a big loss because I’m going to really miss him,” shared his aunt, Rose Becerra. “He loved his kids. That’s what I want the world to know. I want the world to know that he was funny.”
[Photo: Perez Family]