The Los Angeles Police Department said Wednesday that it had shot and killed a 14-year-old named Jesse Romero after responding to a report of vandalism.
Police said Romero was one of two suspects who were seen tagging Tuesday evening in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. When officers arrived at the scene, both Romero and the second suspect allegedly fled on foot. Officers said they heard gunshots while pursuing the suspects and opened fire, killing Romero.
Police said during a Wednesday press conference that an unidentified witness saw Romero fire a handgun at pursuing officers. A second witness, interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, said she saw a suspect attempt to discard a gun that went off when it hit the ground and that no one fired on officers.
A loaded gun was reportedly recovered from the scene of Romero's death. Authorities said it was still being analyzed.
The officers were wearing body cameras and authorities said they are reviewing the footage, which has not been released to the public. The ACLU of Southern California released a statement saying it was concerned about how the police department's policy required the footage to be reviewed.
“Under current policy, LAPD will show the body camera footage to the officers involved before they make an initial statement, allowing them to tailor accounts to the details they see on video,” executive director Hector Villagra wrote.
Romero was a student at Hollenbeck Middle School, where a staff member interviewed by the Times was surprised to hear he might be carrying a weapon.
"He was a bright, smart kid," campus aide Ramon Gomez told the Times. “To see him go like this, I never expected this."
In the meantime, a makeshift memorial has been set up at the site of Romero's death.