On September 21, Arizona law enforcement officer Andrew Tachias shot and killed 76-year-old Suspect James Scott Ostrem while searching for the suspect on a pedestrian bridge.
After the fatal shooting, Tachias said he shot the suspect because he felt threatened. This Thursday, Tachias’ attorney, lawyer Brian Thompson, said the officer was discharged from the department in the wake of a rough and conflicting history.
CNN has not independently verified these claims. The officer has not responded to requests for comment.
After news of the fatal shooting, colleagues and family described Ostrem as a great man. He and his daughter had recently bought a cat, they said.
Ostrem was shot as he tried to flee the officer’s vehicle through a chain-link fence on the pedestrian bridge, a police spokeswoman said at the time.
Officers were called to the store after a Walmart employee reported Ostrem and two other people were trying to steal packaged alcohol from the store, said Stephanie Lopez, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Shortly after, Ostrem was seen on surveillance video making a U-turn, authorities said.
Officers responded to Walmart and saw Ostrem trying to enter the store through the exit on the other side of the pedestrian bridge, officials said.
The suspect fled, and Tachias was flagged down by other officers to assist in apprehending him.
Tachias told CNN affiliate KNXV that a witness was talking to Ostrem before the shooting. A number of officers approached the suspect as he was walking toward the rear of the store.
That’s when Tachias opened fire, Tachias said. He didn’t specify what situation he believed Ostrem was in, but said he felt threatened and thought his life was in danger.
Lopez, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokeswoman, confirmed to CNN Thursday that the county attorney’s office has begun an investigation into the shooting, and said the shooter will not be interviewed.
“As with any officer-involved shooting, our office will conduct a thorough investigation,” Lopez said. “We will gather all the facts and the evidence. A decision on whether the use of force was justified will be made after the investigation.”
As the investigation continues, people in the neighborhood where the shooting took place are searching for answers.
“People don’t know what happened,” said mother Cinthya Perales. “There’s a lot of people hurt.”
Perales said she has lost “peace” and “peace of mind.”
“My sadness has followed me all day,” she said. “I don’t feel like the world is going to be a better place.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist the widow of the deceased suspect with funeral expenses.
“We are in the process of making arrangements and raising funds for his family,” said Amanda Nanius, a representative for the GoFundMe account.