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Fresno Police Officer Shoots, Kills Suspect

By Ashley Ritchie and Winston Whitehurst

Francisco Gonzalez and his family got an unsettling start to their week early Monday morning.

"We just heard some shots around 2am and I was pretty tired, so I didn't get up. But my wife did, she went and looked and told me there was a lot of cop cars out here, and she heard shots," Gonzalez said.

What they heard was the end of a pursuit that started after a Fresno police officer spotted a van running a stop sign.

The officer followed the vehicle, but the suspect got out and fled.

Eventually spotted by another officer, the suspect was tasered, but not taken down, when the officer noticed him holding a large wooden object.

"The officer retreated backwards, and at the same time, pulled out his firearm. The suspect then took the same wooden object. One of the ends of that wooden object was jagged and held it up in a fashion and lunged towards the officer in a jabbing or stabbing motion. It was at that time the officer fired five rounds at the suspect," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

32-year-old Victor Becerril, a known bulldog gang member, was pronounced dead at the scene, making this the fourth officer involved shooting this year.

"We had a total of seven officer involved shootings for the entire year of 2008, which is of a concern to us, because of the fact that it appears we are seeing an increase in the level of aggression towards officers," Dyer said.

For the Gonzalez family, that increase in aggression hits very close to home.

"It makes me really nervous. You notice my house, we've got the fences everywhere, we've got the locks everywhere. I hardly keep them outside," Gonzalez said.

But for now, they're headed to church. All they can do is pray that the rest of their week doesn't include gunshots.

Police say Victor Becerril was on parole for possession of stolen property.

They say he had an extensive criminal history that included drug and property crimes, as well as a felony assault of a police officer.

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