Police arrest Tustin gunman that prompted school lockdowns (updated)

An Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter helped look for a shooting suspect in Tustin Thursday.
An Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter helped look for a shooting suspect in Tustin Thursday. NBC4 screengrab

Updated 2:28 p.m.

Police arrested suspected gunman Justin Herrera, 20, following a search that involved an Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter Thursday.

“Air support was critical,” Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano said at a televised news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The helicopter spotted Herrera and when law enforcement approached Herrera on the ground, he gave up, Celano noted.

Celano said Herrera had been taken into custody within approximately the last half hour or so.

Herrera has prior convictions, though Celano could not elaborate on them.

Police are still searching for the weapon Herrera used to engage in an officer-involved shooting Thursday morning.

Earlier:

Seven Tustin schools are on “soft” lockdown Thursday as police search for a suspected gunman in the area.

“At approximately 8:50 a.m. Thursday Tustin police dispatch received a call about a suspicious subject armed with what appeared to be a sawed off shotgun or rifle in the area of 1600 Nisson Road, which is in the area of Red Hill and I5,” Sergeant Andrew Birozy told KPCC.

An officer involved shooting ensued after a police officer confronted the suspect, who fled back into an apartment complex in the area still armed with a gun.

The officer was not injured and it is unknown if the suspect is injured, said Birozy.

“At this point we are still searching for the suspect,” Birozy said.

The seven Tustin schools in the immediate area are on a “soft lockdown,” which means “campus people are checking perimeters, locking gates and scrutinizing IDs a little closer,” Mark Eliot, Public Information Officer at Tustin Unified School District, told KPCC.

The district is comparing the situation to a “rainy day schedule” -- keeping people in-doors and the kids can still have lunch.

Tustin High School sent a message to students’ parents that they can pick up kids if they want to but the school district is telling them the kids are a lot safer if they're on campus.

The following are the seven Tustin schools on a “soft lockdown”:

Tustin High School

Currie Middle School

Utt Middle School

Helen Estock Elementary

Lambert Elementary

Nelson Elemtary

Marjorie Veeh Elementary

“Several schools are on lockdown for an abundance of caution,” said Birozy. “There’s no known threat to the schools; we’re just trying to be safe.”

Police are asking residents to stay inside if they don’t need to be outside and to keep doors and windows locked.

The suspect is described as a male in his early 20s; 5-foot 9-inches; and clean shaven. He was last seen wearing a black and white baseball cap, royal blue color shirt, multicolor green, white and blue plaid shorts and we believe he is still armed with the firearm.

The Tustin Police Department cautions anyone who sees a person matching the suspect’s description to not confront the suspect and to call police immediately. Anyone with information regarding this matter can call: 714-573-3200. 

 

 

With contributions by Jessica Hamlin

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