Mesa PD: Family fight ended in officer-involved shooting

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Lindsey Reiser, 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: Lindsey Reiser, 3TV/CBS 5)
Police on the scene of officer-involved shooting in the neighborhood southwest of Rio Salado Parkway and Alma School Road. (Source: 3TV/CBS5) Police on the scene of officer-involved shooting in the neighborhood southwest of Rio Salado Parkway and Alma School Road. (Source: 3TV/CBS5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Mesa police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that took place Wednesday afternoon in the area of southwest of Rio Salado Parkway and Alma School Road.

Detective Nik Rasheta of the of the Mesa Police Department said no officers were injured.

[RELATED: 2017 officer-involved shootings]

The suspect, a 67-year-old male identified as Michael Ferrell, was shot by police and died of his injuries at a nearby hospital.

The incident stemmed from a call to police regarding a family fight at a home in the area shortly before 11:30 a.m.

According to Rasheta, a woman said Ferrell was trying to kill her. She also said that he was armed.

"Officers arrived on scene and observed the male subject in the backyard with a gun in his waistband," Rasheta explained in an email to media outlets. "They attempted to give him verbal commands to get rid of the gun but he did not cooperate." 

“When he exited the backyard, he had his hand on his gun," Rasheta continued. "They made contact with him and told him put your hands up. He said, 'No,' and then he said, 'You’ll have to shoot me.'”

Rasheta said there was more dialogue exchanged, but Ferrell continued to refuse their commands. 

"After a few minutes of verbal commands to put his hands up, officers perceived a threat and shots were fired," Rasheta said.

Rasheta said it is too soon to know Ferrell's motive and it's not clear what sparked the fight that triggered the initial call to police.

According to Rasheta, officers used other tools available to them before resorting to gunfire.

“There was a less-than-lethal bean-bag round that was also used,” he said, explaining that that bean bag was ineffective.

Aerial video from the Penguin Air & Plumbing News Chopper showed investigators on the scene, as well as the Mesa Police Department's mobile command center

[WATCH: First report from Bruce Haffner in the Penguin Air and Plumbing News Chopper]

Detectives are trying to determine both how many shots were fired and how many officers were involved. At this point, it's unclear if Ferrell ever pointed the gun at officers.

“The last thing we want to do is get to a point where it becomes an officer-involved shooting both for the person involved and for us,” Rasheta said. 

Ferrell was wounded and taken to the hospital where he later died.

“There was a request to evacuate neighbors and I believe that was in process,” Rasheta said. “I don’t know if it had happened or was happening.”

"I heard the helicopter surrounding the house and being curious and out of nowhere I just heard two loud noises," said Jose Noriega, who lives in the neighborhood.

"I heard one shot go off and about a minute later another shot and another shot and then another shot and I thought, 'OK I better go inside,' you know," said Kevin Mifflin, another neighbor.

And it wasn't just residents affected.

“When the shooting occurred there was a moment where the school had observed our air unit above so they were requesting what was happening and momentarily they were on temporary lockdown for precaution, which was lifted as soon as they realized it was not a threat to them.”

Whittier Elementary School is just north of the scene. It was on lockdown for less than an hour. School officials sent a note to parents. 

"Today, Whittier was placed in a lockdown for approximately 45 minutes due to police activity near the school," the note read. "I appreciate how well everyone followed our emergency procedures. Student and staff safety is a priority at Whittier Elementary.

"Students living south of Whittier, will be dismissed to Longmore to walk home. Students living east of Whittier, we will have additional crossing support at Standage."

The Mesa Police Department tweeted that Standage wass closed just south of Sixth Street and just north of Fifth Place.

While there is no information about the officer or officers involved in this incident, they will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. That is standard procedure any time an officer fires his or her weapon.

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