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Police sniper cleared in killing of machete-wielding man threatening to kill San Jose family

PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/21/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/21/24 09:00

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has determined that a San Jose police sniper acted lawfully when he shot and killed a man who threatened to chop off the heads of a family last year.

In a 21-page report released Tuesday, prosecutor Robert Baker said the sniper, Officer Edward Carboni, acted in lawful defense of the family, consisting of a mother and her two children.

In March 2023, Eliobert Gonzalez, 35, was armed with two machetes and a loaded pellet gun that looked like a .357 Magnum firearm and broke into an apartment on Boynton Avenue that was occupied by a woman with her two sons, ages 7 and 18. Authorities said Gonzalez smashed through the door with a metal pole and the machete.

Eliobert Gonzalez-Rocha San Jose Police Department

For 45 minutes, he repeatedly threatened to kill the family and cut off their heads if they did not help him get back to his old apartment. Authorities said Gonzalez had been recently evicted from the apartment complex and mistook the family as managers of the building. Witnesses told police he threatened to kill the mother and her older son unless they gave him his apartment keys back.

The suspect then forced the mother to tie up her older son and made the family lie on the floor. He ignored the mother's pleading to let her children go and that God would forgive him as he raised the machete above his head.

Authorities said he held the family hostage for 30 minutes and ignored police requests to surrender. He told the victims that if the police tried to take him away, he would "take them away first."

Body-worn camera footage shows Carboni fired multiple rounds from his tactical rifle through the bedroom window, killing Gonzalez and ending the hostage situation.

According to Baker, Carboni was subjected to three prior "Officer Involved Incident investigations" and in all of them, it was determined that he lawfully used lethal force.

"Officer Edward Carboni made a reasonable tactical decision, based on his extensive training and experience as a MERGE (tactical) officer, that saved the lives of a mother and her two boys from an erratic and violent machete-wielding man who held them hostage and repeatedly threatened to kill and behead them," the prosecutor said.

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