EL CENTRO -- A knife-wielding man who reportedly advanced on El Centro police was fatally shot by an officer at about 7 a.m. Sunday near Main Street and Imperial Avenue, the El Centro Police Department reported.

The man, identified as Manuel Gonzales Verdugo, age and city of residence unknown, had allegedly stolen several knives from Rite Aid and reportedly told employees he intended to kill an officer, an ECPD press release stated.

Responding officers reportedly encountered Verdugo in the Rite Aid parking lot in the 1500 block of West Main Street and ordered him to drop the knives, ECPD reported.

Verdugo reportedly refused to comply with officers' commands and allegedly charged at the officers, resulting in one officer deploying the beanbag shotgun in an attempt to subdue Verdugo, the press release stated. 

The beanbag rounds reportedly had no effect on Verdugo, who continued to advance toward the officers, prompting them to fear for their lives and shoot Verdugo, ECPD reported.

Verdugo was struck by an undisclosed amount of gunfire and later was pronounced dead by the El Centro Fire Department paramedics at the scene. No officers were injured and knives were recovered at the scene, the press release stated.

The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office responded to the scene and is handling the ongoing Officer Involved Shooting investigation.

The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office coroner and Scientific Investigation Unit also responded to collect forensic evidence and assist with the investigation.

The completed investigation will be reviewed by the El Centro chief of police to determine if the deadly force complied with ECPD’s policies and procedures.

The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office will conduct their own independent review to determine if the force used by the officer(s) violated any criminal laws.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is urged to call El Centro Police Detectives at (760) 337-4502 or the District Attorney’s Office at (760) 335-5393. 

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