SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A man is dead after a struggle with a police officer ended in gunfire outside a liquor store in San Bernardino late Thursday night, officials said. Police say the man was armed and the deadly shooting was captured by a witness on cell phone video.
The shooting occurred outside the King Tut Liquor store located near the intersection of Baseline Street and Waterman Avenue just before 11:30 p.m.
About ten minutes earlier, San Bernardino police Sgt. John Echevarria said the department received a call of a man “acting erratically” and jumping on cars in the liquor store parking lot. After the call, a solo patrol officer responded to the scene.
Sgt. Echevarria identified the suspect involved in the deadly altercation as 35-year-old Mark Matthew Bender Jr., of San Bernardino during a news conference on Friday morning.
Police described Bender as an African American man who stood at 6 feet 3 inches tall.
The cell phone recording shows the officer struggling as he tackles Bender to the ground. At one point, the video shows the officer on Bender’s back. Shortly after, Bender overpowered the officer as he seemingly slides off back. As Bender stands up, it appears he reached for a weapon on the right side of his body when the officer backs up, followed by the sounds of gunfire as Bender is shot at point-blank range.
“Dude was coming out and he started fighting that dude and the dude tried to get up and all we heard was ‘bam bam bam bam.’ He shot the man. The police shot that man,” a witness said.
The police department said the officer fired four shots and Bender was struck multiple times. Officers at the scene rendered aid and Bender was rushed to a local hospital where he died, authorities said.
“The officer attempted to physically restrain the suspect, placing himself between the suspect and the entrance to the store. A physical altercation occurred between the officer and the suspect. The suspect was about to physically overpower the officer and retrieved a weapon from his pocket, and was turning to face the officer,” the department said in a press release late Friday morning.
SBPD investigators said they located a black 9MM semi-automatic handgun at the scene.
The preliminary investigation revealed the handgun was both functional and loaded. In addition, officials said the gun had no record of ownership with the California Department of Justice.
SBPD also said Bender was an ex-felon and state laws do not permit an ex-felon to possess a firearm.
According to Sgt. Echevarria, Bender had a lengthy criminal past that dates back 17 years; including domestic violence, narcotics, felon in possession of a firearm and attempted murder.
Emotions boiled over and after the shooting, witnesses began confronting officers by screaming and yelling at them.
According to FOX 11’s Bill Melugin, a protest is planned for Friday evening.
Officials have not released the name of the officer who was involved but did confirm he was wearing a body camera.
No further information was immediately released.
Anyone with any information is being asked to contact Detective A. Reyna at 909-384-5628 or Sgt. A. Tello at 909-384-4955.
The investigation is ongoing.