Salinas Police

Salinas Police shot and killed a man while investigating reports he had pointed a gun at a neighbor. Three days after the incident, few details are being made available. 

Five Salinas police officers responded within minutes on Friday night, Feb. 1, to a 911 call from the Safeway store in Creekbridge on Constitution Boulevard. The caller reported a man was brandishing a gun at customers, and police quickly found 37-year-old Guadalupe Aguirre Espinoza in the parking lot. 

Salinas Police Department spokesperson Miguel Cabrera says officers instructed Espinoza to drop his gun. "Shortly after, it appears he is reaching for a handgun," Cabrera says of the scene. "Then the officers open fire and shoot [Espinoza]."

They subsequently found a replica, rather than a real firearm. "Obviously the officers didn’t know that at the time," Cabrera says. 

He was transported to Natividad for medical treatment, and survived his injuries. When he was well enough to be moved from the hospital on Sunday, Espinoza was moved to Monterey County Jail on charges of brandishing a replica firearm, violation of probation and possession of methamphetamine. He is being held on $1 million bail. 

The Salinas Police Department has requested that the Monterey County District Attorney's Office investigate the officer-involved shooting, in keeping with their standard practice for such shootings.

The charges filed so far represent the events leading up to the shooting, the portion of the events that the Salinas PD is responsible for investigating; as of Monday morning, investigators with the DA's office are still looking into the shooting and whether charges will be filed and against whom. 

The five officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, as is customary after officers fire shots. 

Customers in the parking lot captured the confrontation on video that was posted on social media. It's hard to see in the dark, but Espinoza appears to be on the grassy shoulder past the edge of the parking lot, police facing him with weapons drawn. They are heard giving several commands in English and Spanish before about 20 gunshots are fired. 

Aguirre was charged on Oct. 12 with a misdemeanor and agreed to a plea deal. He was represented then by the Public Defender's Office; the new charges have not yet been scheduled for court and it's not yet clear whether he will again be represented by the Public Defender. 

District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni says DA investigators are still reviewing evidence, which includes body camera footage from the officers at the scene.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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