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Sheriff’s deputies in Southern California shoot and kill armed teen struggling with mental health issues

In Victorville, California on April 3, 2024, 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 barricaded himself inside a bathroom at a home. The teenager, who was a foster youth residing in Hesperia, had recently been treated at a hospital for self-inflicted injuries before escaping while being transferred to a mental health facility. He later arrived at the home of his sisters, who are also in foster care.

Upon encountering the deputies, the teen locked himself in the bathroom with a knife. Despite attempts to get him to surrender for approximately thirty minutes, the deputies were forced to forcibly enter the bathroom when the boy threatened self-harm. During the confrontation, the teen was pepper-sprayed and a deputy sustained injuries from the knife.

Despite their best efforts, the boy was shot and pronounced dead at a hospital. This incident occurred just days after another fatal shooting involving San Bernardino deputies and a 15-year-old boy with autism. In both cases, law enforcement officers asserted that they had been met with violent behavior.

Sheriff Shannon Dicus has emphasized the need for improved access to mental health services for troubled youth and highlighted the challenges faced by law enforcement as they continue to be called upon to handle such crisis situations without adequate resources or support from mental health professionals. He has vowed to advocate for a more robust mental health system in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

By Samantha Jones

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