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A man killed in an officer-involved shooting in Vallejo early Sunday morning has been identified as a 23-year-old Vallejo resident who allegedly brandished a replica handgun in a confrontation with police. Mario Romero was shot and killed after two officers on patrol in the 100 block of Pepper Drive spotted Romero and a 21-year-old man in a car around 4:30 a.m., police said. The two men were sitting in a car when the officers turned on a patrol car spotlight and the driver — identified as Romero — walked out and police said the butt of a gun was visible in his waistband.
Romero then allegedly reached for his gun and appeared to turn toward the officers, police said. Romero was partially obstructed by the open car door. The officers thought he was going to shoot and fired their weapons at Romero, who was crouched behind the car door. At this point Romero did not comply with officer commands to show his hands and instead reached toward the center console in the car, which was when officers opened fire a second time, police said. Romero was hit and slumped over. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police said Romero had a replica Beretta firearm in his waistband that closely resembled an authentic make of the weapon.
Police have also connected Romero to the Lofas Street gang and as a lead in a 2008 shooting in which a female bystander was seriously wounded. Police said Romero at the time of Sunday’s shooting was on felony probation out of Solano County for carrying a concealed weapon with a prior conviction. Also, more than 50 ecstasy pills were found in the vehicle, police said. Also in the shooting, the 21-year-old passenger was struck by a bullet or shrapnel in the buttocks and was taken to a hospital to be treated. The area where the officers were patrolling was known for recent gang-related activity, police said. An investigation into the incident is under way by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office and the Vallejo Police Department. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
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