SAN JOSE -- Two San Jose police officers shot and killed a man in the Blossom Valley neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, ending a wild 20-minute chase on Highway 85 and through residential streets.
The suspect, who is about 25 years old but was not identified as of late Saturday night, died after he fled his disabled car on the 5800 block of Blossom Avenue, near Mohican Drive, in South San Jose.
Two officers "felt the suspect presented an imminent danger," said Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Department. Believing the suspect was armed, "both officers fired, he went down and was pronounced dead at the scene."
It was the first officer-involved shooting of the year in San Jose. There were four last year, with one fatality, and eight in 2011, with four fatalities, Dwyer said.
The episode started at 2:36 p.m. in the area of Union Avenue and Bascom Avenue, where a police officer spotted a driver who was acting suspiciously, Dwyer said.
Details about his behavior were not available, but the neighborhood has recently suffered a spate of daytime residential burglaries.
The driver took off at a high rate of speed, but the officer did not initially chase him, believing it unsafe in a residential neighborhood. The officer soon spotted and followed the suspect's tan Ford Contour.
"We're thinking: 'Who are you and why don't you want to be caught?' " Dwyer said.
The suspect rammed the police car and
One police cruiser became disabled, but the suspect rammed two other police cars. At one point, at least 14 police cars were involved in the chase, including Campbell police cars.
The suspect continued onto southbound Highway 85, leaving the highway in the vicinity of Blossom Avenue and Calero Avenue in South San Jose after a blowout flattened his rear left tire. He continued to drive the damaged car on three tires and a bent rim.
Neighbor Jim Grasso, who was walking on a nearby sidewalk, was startled by the sounds coming from the suspect's car.
"His car was very loud, making a lot of noise, but he was very calm, like nothing was going on," he said. "It was very strange."
Said another witness: "He seemed really relaxed. He was driving over 100 miles an hour on Santa Teresa, on three wheels."
Police decided to use their patrol vehicles to box him in, forcing the suspect to stop in front of a home on Blossom Avenue. He ran toward a home, disobeying officers' orders and commands.
"At that point, he displayed threatening behavior toward the officers," Dwyer said.
Because the suspect had rammed police cars and officers believed he was armed, they decided to shoot, Dwyer said. The two officers were 20 to 30 feet away when they fired several rounds, Dwyer said.
The incident was under investigation by the San Jose Police Department. Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on routine paid administrative leave.
It was the second officer-involved fatality in the Bay Area on Saturday.
A Daly City officer early Saturday morning shot and killed a man, also believed to have been armed, after leading police on a chase in a stolen vehicle to San Francisco.
Staff writer Peter Delevett contributed to this report. Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact Detective Sgt. Dave Gutierrez or Detective Liz Checke of the San Jose Police Department's Homicide Unit at (408) 277-5283. Persons wishing to remain anonymous can call the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-7867 or may visit http://svcrimestoppers.org.