A preliminary investigation into last week’s shooting of a gun-wielding man by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies has revealed some of the factors behind the man’s behavior. Three deputies opened fire in self-defense after the man refused orders to put down his weapon and instead pointed the gun at the officers.
The dead man, Donald George, 64, of 4621 Via Gennita, had recently been diagnosed with a serious medical condition that had left him despondent, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. Deputies responded March 6 to a call from George’s wife who said he had gotten his .38 handgun and that she feared for his safety.
Deputies, confronting George on his back patio, told him to drop his gun, an order he ignored. After going inside and coming back out, George was observed loading the weapon before he pointed it directly at one of the deputies, who was 15 feet away. Deputies Jarrett Morris, Jeremy Rogers and Joe Schmidt, each of whom has been with the department for about three years, fired a total of 11 rounds in response. George later died of his wounds at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
The investigation is ongoing. The deputies, who have been put on paid administrative leave, standard practice in such a situation, were following standard law enforcement procedures.