Watsonville police have identified an armed man who was shot and killed by police inside a Big 5 Sporting Goods store on Tuesday as 22-year-old Robin Miranda. Police received a 911 call from a manager at the store, located at 1083 S. Green Valley Road, at about 11:10 a.m., police Lt. David McCartney said.
The manager reported that a man was trying to steal a rifle or shotgun from the store’s display case, McCartney said. The man, later identified as Miranda, had come into the store earlier that morning and asked about buying a shotgun and ammunition, and the manager had spent at least half an hour talking with him, McCartney said.
He then left the store, went to his car and returned a short time later with a bag containing an extension cord and tools including a grinder, the lieutenant said. He broke a shotgun out of its wooden holder and used the grinder to sever a lock that was on the trigger guard, McCartney said. While the manager was on the phone with police dispatchers, Miranda allegedly fired at least one shot in her direction as she hid in a locked office, he said.
“She could see him walking around to the front of the store yelling unintelligible statements,” McCartney said. Two other employees were able to flee out a rear exit, he said. There were no customers in the store at the time. While Miranda was roaming around, he padlocked the front doors shut using a bicycle lock, McCartney said. However, when police arrived, five officers were able to open the doors enough to squeeze through.
The officers confronted Miranda inside the store and demanded that he drop his weapon, McCartney said. Miranda allegedly refused to comply, and two of the officers shot and killed him. McCartney said police fired between two end eight rounds. The two officers, identified as Officer Zane Ota, a 31-year veteran of the department, and Detective Danny Thul, who has been on the force for 10 years, have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is protocol in officer-involved shootings.
McCartney said Watsonville officers are trained for situations involving an active shooter. “They acted in accordance with their training,” he said. Miranda is a resident of Watsonville. It remains unclear what motivated his actions on Tuesday. “There was obviously some preplanning because he brought his own extension cord to have power to the grinder,” McCartney said.
McCartney said police have had contact with Miranda in the past, including last year when he led police on a chase. An officer had spotted him driving erratically on Nov. 5 and tried to pull him over but Miranda refused to yield, McCartney said. He was eventually taken into custody. He had also been arrested for minor thefts, McCartney said.
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