Police in San Francisco shot and killed a man who authorities said had pulled what appeared to be a gun near officers outside a police station on Sunday evening. It later turned out that the unidentified man had a BB or pellet gun, rather than a real gun, officials said.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station. In a statement, the department said that the confrontation began when police sergeants asked a man in the station’s restricted lot to leave. Instead, the man stood in the middle of the driveway blocking their exit, police said.

(Google Maps)
(Google Maps)

When the sergeants approached him again, asking the man to take his hands out of his shirt pockets, they said they saw “what appeared to be the butt of a handgun” sticking out from his waistband, the statement said.

“Fearing for their safety and in defense of their lives, the sergeants drew their service weapons as the suspect pulled the weapon” out, the police statement said. Two sergeants shot and hit the man three times. He was declared dead at San Francisco General Hospital shortly before 8 p.m.

Police later learned that the man had an air gun, or a replica gun, they said.

Officials also said that the same man had approached officers from the same station earlier in the day while they were responding to a call two blocks away from the station. He asked them what kind of weapons and ammunition they carried and if they “had been involved in any officer involved shootings,” police said, but they did not respond and the man eventually left.

This shooting comes amid ongoing protests over police tactics, demonstrations that followed the shooting deaths of people who later turned out to be unarmed. A 12-year-old boy named Tamir Rice in Ohio was shot and killed by police while playing with a BB gun in November. Three months earlier, police in the same state fatally shot John Crawford III while he was holding an air rifle that fires BBs or pellets.

It also occurs as police officers continue to express anger at the protests, with New York becoming the epicenter of these frustrations after two police officers were killed while sitting in their patrol car. More than a dozen officers were fatally shot in ambush attacks last year, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The San Francisco police sergeants involved in Sunday’s shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the police department, the district attorney’s office and the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints.