'If you level a gun at an officer, we will use deadly force to stop you'
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Police in Sunnyside said using deadly force was never a question when officers opened fire on a man outside mini mart Wednesday. The police chief told Action News officers responded to a direct threat.
A much different scene Thursday afternoon - sun and blue skies. Investigators still combed the Sunnyside neighborhood for evidence in a shooting that left a man dead in the damp, dark night before.
Neighbors are still coming to terms with what happened.
"My heart goes out to anybody who loses their life especially if they're a parent and leave behind any children," said neighbor Lynette Rodriguez.
Police told KIMA they had no choice but to shoot 27-year-old Ramon Ayala. He had a gun and wouldn't put it down.
"Why in this case did police need to use force?" KIMA asked.
"The suspect pointed the gun towards the officer after shooting several rounds in the area," said Sgt. Joe Glossen.
Sunnyside police say they make safe arrests almost daily that involve guns. In this case, the officers felt their lives were threatened.
"We're not going to trade bullets with somebody, you understand what I'm saying. If you level a gun at an officer, we will use deadly force to stop you," Glossen said.
Any time there's an officer-involved shooting, the comments light up on KIMA's Facebook page.
Many neighbors feel it's never warranted. Rodriguez said she trusts the decisions made by police.
"We have a very, very capable police force and I know they would never do anything unless they felt like the safety of bystanders was threatened," Rodriguez said.
She says she's happy no one else was hurt.
"There were kids coming home from two elementary schools. Yeah, that really panics me," she said.
Police said it's still not clear why the man was firing shots. They said he had no substantial background and it was not gang-related. Glossen said it simply might have been a death wish.
"We are not ruling that out," he said.
For now the investigation continues and neighbors said they won't let it effect their way of life.
"It's not going to change the way we live," Rodriguez said. "We're still going to do our walking and our biking and our grandchildren are still going to come and play."
It is standard procedure for officers to be put on paid leave anytime they use their weapons.
Ramon Ayala's friends and family did not agree to an interview.