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Man With Dementia Shot And Killed By Bakersfield Police Was Holding Crucifix

Francisco Serna. (via Facebook)
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A grandfather with dementia was shot and killed by a Bakersfield Police officer early Monday morning after it was reported he had a gun. Police found no weapon on him and say he was holding a crucifix.

The victim of the shooting has been identified as 73-year-old Francisco Serna, who family members say was in the early stages of dementia and took walks at night to help him sleep. "My dad did not own a gun," Serna's son Rogelio told the L.A. Times. "He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life."

On Tuesday, Bakersfield Police Department Assistant Police Chief Lyle Martin (who became chief of police on Wednesday morning) held a press conference recounting the events that took place on Monday morning in southwest Bakersfield. According to Martin, one of Serna's neighbors on the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue called 9-1-1 after Serna allegedly accosted his wife in front of their home just after 12:30 a.m. Officers responded to the scene around 12:40 a.m. and spoke to the couple in their yard when the woman spotted Serna walking out of his house and identified him to police.

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Martin says Serna then approached officers with his hands in his pockets, ignoring commands from police to show his hands. Officer Reagan Selman, who Serna was approaching, then shot seven rounds at Serna. He was declared dead at the scene, reports the Bakersfield Californian.

In a statement, Bakersfield Police noted, "During a search of Mr. Serna a dark colored simulated woodgrain crucifix was recovered. Mr. Serna was not armed at the time of the shooting. No firearm has been recovered."

According to Martin, Serna had earlier threatened another one of his neighbors on Sunday afternoon, but the neighbor did not report the incident to police.

The Serna family held a vigil in front of Serna's home on Tuesday evening, just across the street from where he was shot. According to BakersfieldNow, a spokesperson for the family told the crowd, "We feel our dad was stolen from us in a time at which our family should be celebrating the holidays, birthdays and making happy family memories."