Family members comforted a 2-year-old boy Thursday who was inside the Santa Ana condominium with his mother when police shot and killed his father, Elmer Perez, during a confrontation.
"My little nephew saw everything," said Elmer's brother, Jerry Perez.
Jerry Perez says his sister called police after 5:30 a.m., worried that Elmer, 27, was on drugs and might possibly harm himself. Police say three or four police officers arrived to hear yelling and physical fighting. Elmer's wife is pregnant.
"The officers heard the individual talking about killing himself and was refusing to let her leave the second story and come downstairs," said Santa Ana Police Corporal Anthony Bertagna.
Authorities say as the fighting escalated, officers went upstairs.
"As they rounded the stairs he was at the top of the stairs and that's when the officer observed the weapon in his hand," said Bertagna. "There were shots fired. The individual was struck."
"The cops knew that the gun was a toy since the beginning," said Jessica Gomez, Elmer's sister-in-law.
As investigators questioned witnesses, family members say Elmer's wife initially told police he had a fake gun. When police arrived another family member said the gun could be real.
"When they heard him talking about killing himself, you need to assume that that weapon is real," said Bertagna.
"They don't just have weapons, they have the mace, they have the electric shock," said Jerry Perez.
Authorities were trying to determine if the shooting was justified.
"Sadness and angry, but mostly sadness because it's my brother that died," said Jerry.
Police said Elmer Perez had a lengthy criminal record, including grand theft auto and possession for sale of methamphetamine. He served prison time and was released in 2006. He was deported.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office is investigating the incident, which is standard procedure for any officer-involved shooting.