Long Beach police responded to 3rd Street and Long Beach Boulevard around 9:47 a.m. following reports of a woman armed with a gun.
A SWAT team and crisis negotiators were also dispatched to the location. Authorities say they tried to communicate with 31-year-old Adeline Arroyo for nearly two hours in an attempt to get her to put the weapon down. Police say she then pointed it at them. Fearing for their safety, that is when officers say they fired.
"When she put her gun up, she kind of started swerving her hand, and she was walking towards the officers. As she started walking towards them, they started shooting her," said Droshawn Means, a witness.
Family members say Arroyo is mentally ill and that the weapon was a BB gun. Long Beach police say it was a realistic looking semi-automatic Beretta replica.
"If a person has a handgun and they point that in your direction, then at that point less lethal is not appropriate. You're facing a lethal threat," said Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.
Arroyo's family says the situation never should have ended in gunfire.
"I'm feeling distraught about the whole thing. This is something that shouldn't have happened," said Irene Ward, Arroyo's aunt. "I feel the Long Beach Police Department should be more trained when they're dealing with somebody with a mental illness."
According to her family, Arroyo was shot twice. She was rushed to a hospital and was last listed in critical but stable condition.
The Long Beach Police Department and district attorney's office are investigating the incident. This was the 19th officer-involved shooting in Long Beach this year.
Long Beach Boulevard and Elm Avenue were closed to traffic from 4th Street to Broadway Avenue following the incident.