Sheriff’s deputies in Southern California fatally shoot armed teenager with mental health issues

Tragic Deaths of Teens with Mental Health Issues Highlight the Urgency for Improved Mental Health Services in Southern California

In Southern California, a 17-year-old boy with mental health issues was shot and killed by Sheriff’s deputies after he armed himself with a knife and locked himself inside a bathroom at a home in Victorville. The teen had escaped from a hospital where he was being transferred to a mental health facility after receiving treatment for self-inflicted injuries.

The boy, who was a foster youth from Hesperia, had gone to a home where his sisters lived in foster care, prompting someone to call deputies to arrest him due to previous troubles. Deputies attempted to coax the teen out of the bathroom for half an hour before he threatened to harm himself. They ultimately broke down the door and attempted to apprehend him, during which he was holding a knife. The encounter resulted in deputies pepper-spraying him and one deputy being injured by the knife. The teen was shot and pronounced dead at the hospital.

This incident occurred less than a month after another shooting involving San Bernardino deputies and a 15-year-old boy with autism. The sheriff emphasized the need for better access to mental health services for troubled youth, so that law enforcement does not have to be the only response during crises. He stressed the importance of having additional resources available beyond law enforcement for the community’s mental health needs.

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