Yellow crime scene tape on Monday cordoned off a portion of the Orange County Civic Center for most of the day while Santa Ana police investigated what led two of their officers to shoot a 32-year old man who is in critical condition.
The shooting happened at around 9:30 a.m., just outside the Orange County Central Justice Center courthouse among dozens of camps where homeless people live.
“I was asleep and I just heard a loud, crack, crack,” said David Brown, 62.
Brown said he saw a train of Santa Ana police cars driving through Civic Center in a hurry. The wounded man was lying on a stretcher headed for an ambulance.
Santa Ana police spokesperson Cpl. Anthony Bertanga didn’t have details about why the two officers contacted and approached the 32-year old man. He said a fight broke out and then police shot him. The man was struck more than once, Bertanga said.
Civic Center was abuzz with people wondering what happened and who was shot. Plenty of people said they had seen the unidentified man hanging around Civic Center before but they weren’t sure if he was homeless.
“He comes up here and plays chess,” said one man who didn’t want to give his name.
Others talked about a recent O.C. Register newspaper article reporting the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has begun training judges and courthouse staff how to walk safely past growing homeless encampments at Civic Center after employees sent a letter to county supervisors voicing concerns about safety.
Although police shootings at Civic Center are rare said homeless man Larry Smith, he’s not surprised by it. The area is getting crowded, he said. Smith expects some kind of change but he’s not sure what that’ll be.
“There’s too much of a spotlight right here, on that building, in this area,” he said.
This story has been updated.