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March 23, 2023

Police officer shoots suspect armed with knives

(Police cordon off the intersection of Ohlone Parkway and Main Street where an officer-involved shooting occurred just after 10:30 a.m. Photo by Johanna Miller/Pajaronian)

UPDATE: Watsonville Police identified the man shot by an officer Wednesday morning as Isaias Aguilar, 22. He was listed in stable condition on Thursday.

WATSONVILLE — A Watsonville Police officer on Wednesday shot a man who attacked him, a police officer told the Pajaronian.

The incident occurred in the intersection of Main Street and Ohlone Parkway just before 11 a.m.

According to witnesses, the man was acting erratically and running around the intersection holding two large kitchen knives.

According to Watsonville Police Chief David Honda, police received a call from a family that a man in their residence was under the influence of drugs and hallucinating and armed with two knives.

The man was not at home when the officer arrived, Honda said.

About 30 minutes later, officers received a call that a man with a similar description in the intersection, throwing rocks at vehicles and charging them, Honda said. 

“When my officers came upon the man in the middle of the street, they saw that he was armed with at least one knife, and it sounds like he may have been armed with two,” he said. “He immediately charged the officer, and the officer was forced to deploy his service weapon.”

The officer was not injured. Honda identified him as Matt Williams, who has been on the force for two years. He was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

WPD has not released the man’s name. He was described only as a 22-year-old male. He was flown by air ambulance to an out-of-county trauma center.

Because it is an officer-involved shooting, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office will perform the investigation, Honda said.

Witnesses also said the man refused orders by police to drop the knives. At one point the suspect charged an officer, who shot him in the abdomen.

Armando Ramirez of Salinas was in his car idling at the stoplight on Main Street when he saw the shooting.

“The man was running back and forth, darting through the intersection,” Ramirez said. “Then I saw him charge with a knife, right towards the officer.

“I didn’t know what to do. It was pretty terrifying — it all happened really close to me.”

David, who declined to give his last name, was in the nearby 7-Eleven when he heard a commotion outside.

“I saw from a distance a man running around with a knife,” he said. “Then I heard a ‘pop’ noise, which I guess was the gunshot.”

The man collapsed in the intersection. He was confrontational with emergency workers who loaded him onto an ambulance for the ride to Watsonville Community Hospital, witnesses said.

Honda said that officers receive training in deescalating violent incidents, and in interacting with mentally ill people.

In addition, the officers called for “less-lethal” weapons to help deal with the suspect. 

Still, the suspect charged the officer just 30 seconds after he arrived, Honda said. 

“Situations are different every time, and sometimes there is just not the availability or the time necessary to deploy every technique we learn,” he said. “When confronted with a deadly force situation, there’s sometimes not enough time to respond with other tools at our disposal.”

The intersection reopened at 4:15 p.m.


The knives reportedly used in the attack are shown on the roadway. Photo courtesy of Watsonville Police Department


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