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Some Question Use Of Deadly Force After Bronx Stabbing Suspect Is Shot Dead By Police

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An investigation is ongoing after police fatally shot a man who they said had stabbed two female security guards at a homeless facility in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, the son of one of the security guards spoke late Tuesday about one of the crucial moments in the chain of events.

Police said 67-year-old Cornell Lockhart used a steak knife to attack the security guards in the lobby of the Hughes House, a shelter for homeless and mentally ill, around 8 p.m. Monday in East Tremont.

A 29-year-old guard and a 48-year-old guard have both been treated and released from the hospital.

"It was rough to get a phone call that your mom has been stabbed -- when you expect her to just be at work – really scary," said Anthony Hope.

Hope was still fearful Tuesday for his mother, Kathy, after a man wielding a knife stabbed her in the arm and chest. It happened in the lobby of a supportive living shelter in the East Tremont section of the Bronx, and Kathy Hope is being praised for helping protect her fellow security guard during the attack.

"Knowing her, she's just tough," Anthony Hope said. "I think it was her maternal instinct just kicked in!"

Kathy Hope also spoke off camera with CBS2's Aiello, saying she was physically and emotionally exhausted.

The dead man – Cornell Lockhart, 67 – had a long history of contacts with police and mental health caregivers.

The 48th Precinct tweeted his picture last year after he vanished from the shelter. CBS2 has learned he was later found at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem after a mental health emergency.

On Tuesday night, a small memorial commemorated Lockhart, known on the street as "Pops."

When police arrived, two officers encountered Lockhart in the lobby and repeatedly ordered him to drop the knife, according to NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan.

"The officers repeated these commands more than 20 times, the armed man did not comply and instead stepped towards the officers with the knife displayed in his right hand," Monahan said.

Police say both officers discharged their service weapons, striking the suspect multiple times.

Lockhart, who friends said had been living in the shelter for six years, was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital where he died.

Hannibal Ali, a resident of the shelter, disputes the police account and said Lockhart did not have to die.

A spokesperson for the organization overseeing the shelter said it appears the initial attack was unprovoked, but Ali said the guards had been taunting Lockhart and he snapped.

"His words, 'I'm not nobody's retard, they're calling me retard and stupid,'" Ali said.

Ali said he was trying to calm Lockhart when officers arrived.

"Police told him, 'Sir drop the knife.' He's like, 'No.' They said, 'Drop the knife, sir put the knife down.' They said it three times to him, not no 20 times, three times. I was standing there," said Ali. "He did not move forward toward the police. He stood in one place."

Ali said he got between the officers and Cornell, but was told to get out of the way.

"Next thing I knew, the gunfire started, and when I looked again Cornell was laying on the floor," he said.

Those who knew Lockhart said he may have been loud, he may have had a mental illness, but they claim he was a loving man who was far from violent, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

"He didn't bother nobody. He made everybody laugh. Everybody. So it's hard for us to believe that this took place," said Bronx resident Fred Johnson.

"I cried, it's very sad," one woman said.

But one resident said Lockhart had a history of animosity toward the security guards.

"He cursed them out, screamed at them, disrespected them and everything else," said Andrew Sims.

One guard was stabbed in arm; the other was stabbed in chest. Authorities say neither of the officers were injured in the encounter.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, an officer with one year on the force fired three times, while the other officer a six year veteran fired six times.

Investigators are reviewing surveillance video of the knife attack and police body camera video of the confrontation that followed.

Lockhart's friends hope the footage reveal what truly happened.

"No matter what, I don't think the police's first choice should be lethal," friend Mikiel Trox said. "They didn't have to kill him."

A police investigation and a review by the Bronx District Attorney's office is underway.


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