MENIFEE – A man fatally shot by Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies who had been summoned to his home in the retirement community of Sun City to conduct a welfare check was identified today as a terminal cancer patient amid indications he may have been contemplating what has come to be known as suicide by cop.
Mickey Larragoitiy, 58, was shot in the garage of his home on Winged Foot Drive in the community of Sun City, which serves seniors, by deputies who had received a call around 9:30 p.m. Monday night from a neighbor to check on his welfare.
Riverside County Deputy Alberto Martinez said Larragoitiy pointed a handgun at the deputies who arrived to offer assistance and was then shot. Family members said the weapon was a BB gun.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise, which reported Larragoitiy’s identity, quoted family members as saying he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The newspaper reported that the neighbor who made the welfare call, Suzie Murray, had received a call from Larragoitiy saying he no longer wanted to live and would ”die at the hands of cops.”
Murray told the newspaper she called police and was still on the line when the deputies arrived.
”I could hear them yelling, ‘Don’t pick up that weapon!'” Murray said. A hail of gunfire fire followed, killing Larragoitiy, who was sitting in a chair in the garage.
David Larragoitiy, 54, of Vista, told the Press-Enterprise that his brother had made calls to several people Monday night and that he might have been drinking. But he said the man wouldn’t have harmed a deputy.
He said their mother, who lives across the street, also had called the police.
”She thinks it’s her fault,” David Larragoitiy told the Press- Enterprise. ”She just wanted them to check on him.”
Larragoitiy’s son, Jason Larragoitiy, 40, of San Clemente, told the Press-Enterprise that his father recently had decided not to continue cancer treatment and had talked about suicide. He also questioned the actions of the deputies.
”I think the police could have handled it way different,” he said.
The deputies involved were placed on paid administrative leave, which is department policy in shootings. Their names were not disclosed.