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Family reacts to officer-involved shooting

March 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Family members of a man killed by an off-duty police officer in Temecula are speaking out about the incident.Family members of a man killed by an off-duty police officer in Temecula are speaking out about the incident.

Shawn Velan, 30, was shot and killed Saturday night in Temecula by an off-duty Costa Mesa police officer.

"At about 7:20 P.M., officers from the Temecula Police Department responded to a 245 -- assault with a deadly weapon ? call in the area. The responded to a restaurant-type bar and located two victims of a gunshot shooting," Riverside Sheriff's Deputy Craig Roberts said.

Police say it all started while people were out celebrating the end of a popular annual hot rod car show.

Velan and his friends were at a Mexican restaurant when witnesses say the officer inappropriately touched a female friend.

"She turned around and said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'Oh, I thought you were my sister.' Then Shawn stood up for her and said, 'Don't touch her like that,'" said Dara Lewenthal, the victim's girlfriend who witnessed the altercation.

Police say the shooting eventually took place outside the restaurant where the officer pulled out a gun and shot Velan and his friend. Lewenthal says Velan's 7-year-old son was standing right next to his father when he was shot.

"(The officer) just pulled out a gun and started shooting. He hit Shawn and shot (his friend) in the leg, which is (his son's) height," Lewenthal said.

"I'm sure an officer is trained to shoot-to-kill and that's what he did. Just full-on shot him in the chest. Just blew his chest apart," Karen Crowley, the victim's mother, said.

Velan's friend Taylor is in critical condition at a local hospital. The police officer was also injured in the shooting but has been released from the hospital.

It's unclear if any charges will be filed against the officer.

Police are still trying to piece together what exactly happened, so if you have any information you're asked to call the Temecula Police Dept. at (951) 696-3000.

 

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