SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Police shot and critically injured a 32-year-old man behind the Orange County Superior Court Central Justice Center in downtown Santa Ana Monday.
The suspect, who was shot in the chest at least once, was taken to Orange County Global Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition, according to police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Shots rang out just before 9:30 a.m. near 600 N. Ross Street in the vicinity of the fountain in the Civic Center. It's an area where hundreds of homeless people camp out.
The incident began when two officers struggled with the suspect, Bertagna said.
Linda Gonzales, a transient who regularly sleeps near the Plaza of the Flags, said she was reading a newspaper when she heard gunfire.
"I heard three gun shots and this man screaming: 'ah! ah!' and the cop going: 'my gun'," Gonzalez recalled.
She said she heard what appeared to be the suspect grabbing an officer's gun.
"I don't know if he was reaching for one. But I did hear: 'oh my gun.' So I don't know if that was a police officer that said that," Gonzalez added. "He was riding his bike through here, and he had no shirt on. He can't be hiding a gun."
Bertagna said he is not aware of the suspect grabbing an officer's gun, but an investigation will shed more light on the witness' account.
Gonzales said she did not know the suspect well, except that his first name is Richard, and he is quiet.
Bertagna said a bicycle was found at the crime scene, but it's unclear whether the suspect was riding it before the shooting.
Camping in the Civic Center area is a misdemeanor. But that didn't stopping Gonzalez from living there.
In fact, she praised the police. "The guys have helped me through a lot of things here," Gonzalez said. "They're very good police officers."
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