The Columbus Day holiday kept a ballistic team from investigating the weapon that was carried by a man who was fatally shot by an LAPD officer in Sun Valley on Sunday morning.
"I cannot confirm if it was a rifle or a BB gun at this time," said Capt. Peter Whittingham, the commanding officer of the patrol division of Los Angles Police in the North Hollywood Division.
"I can categorically say that the officer saw a rifle and it was levelled at the officer and he shot in defense of his life," Whittingham said on Monday afternoon.
Whittingham said he was at the scene rather quickly after the incident on Sunday, and the weapon was taken by police.
"I saw the gun, I saw a rifle," the commander said.
Late Sunday night, Whittingham said, "We know the difference between a BB gun and a rifle."
Whittingham did say the weapon did not look like a toy gun that was painted to look real, and he said the officer who shot shouted repeatedly, "Put down the rifle! Put down the rifle! Put down the rifle!"
Several news outlets are reporting that the man's family members and neighbors claim he was holding a BB gun and had called 911 on himself, forcing a "suicide by cop" scenario.
Officers from the North Hollywood Division were sent to Vineland Avenue and Valerio Street about 5 a.m. Sunday in response to a report of some people shooting in the air, Whittingham said. Upon arrival, the officers confronted a suspect that matched a description broadcast over the police radio.
"When arriving, the individual had his hands behind his back," Whittingham explained. "The officer told him to show his hands. He did and, in the process, pointed a weapon, which is a rifle, at the officer. The officer said repeatedly 'Put down your rifle, put down your rifle.' An OIS [officer-involved shooting] occurred."
No officers were believed to have been fired upon, he said, adding that the suspect was alone when confronted.
ABC7 identified the man who was shot as Julio Sandoval and also reported that a neighbor said he had been depressed and distraught over finances. The neighbor claimed Sandoval had told her minutes before the shooting that he had called 911 on himself, and that it was only a BB gun he was armed with.
KTLA reported that Sandoval's 20-year-old son claimed he tried to warn the officers that his father was drunk and not a threat because it was only a BB gun.
"From where they were standing they said, 'Oh, it's a BB gun,' once they saw it on the floor, you know," the son said. "This happened in like 30 seconds. The whole time I was yelling like, 'Stop, my dad's just drunk.'"
Multiple officials with the LAPD identified the weapon to the media as a rifle.
"The officers orders the suspect to drop the rifle and the suspect did not comply," LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman told KTLA.
The shooting occurred about a block over the border from North Hollywood and near the Bob Hope Airport.
"I heard three gunshots that woke me up," said a neighbor who did not want to be identified. "My neighbors say they heard four gunshots, so maybe I woke up on the second gunshot."
Sandoval was declared dead after paramedics took him to Northridge Hospital Medical Center. His name was not made available.
Some onlookers, including a young girl, were seen crying and overcome with emotion when they heard Sandoval had died.
Whittingham said the officer involved in the shooting is not on leave and no action has been taken. The police expect more information on Tuesday afternoon.