Officials in Huntington Beach say that a shirtless man with blood on him created chaos during soccer practice by chasing children with a broken wine bottle. The frightening situation did not end until police arrived and shot and killed the man.
The man was later identified as 29-year-old Steven Schlitz. Reportedly Schlitz jumped over a 3-foot barrier onto the soccer field. He was following an adult soccer player at a sports complex in Huntington Beach on Thursday night. Children were holding practice on the field at the time. Schlitz began chasing the children with the broken wine bottle, reports U.S. News.
Screams filled the air as the children ran from Schlitz and began climbing fences to escape him. Schlitz saw a woman sitting on the bleachers and began moving towards her. Witnesses state that the woman appeared to be frozen with fear. Two police officers opened fire on Schlitz killing him before he could harm the woman.
A witness told a local newspaper that he felt that police did all they could to not shoot the man, but in the end had to save the life of the woman on the bleachers. The witness says that Schlitz was walking directly towards the woman. He started to swing the wine bottle as he drew close to her. The witness said in another second he would have struck the woman with the broken wine bottle, reports WHIO.
At the time of the incident, there were 200 people at the complex. The facility has seven soccer fields and eight baseball fields.
Before police shot Schlitz two adult soccer players attempted to push a 6 x 8 foot soccer goal onto Schlitz. They were unable to do so and Schlitz continued toward a team of 11-year-olds.
Many of the adults were busy helping the girls and boys get over the fence. Some adults gently tossed kids over the fence to safety.
Witnesses say that while the children were scrambling to get over the fence Schlitz was stumbling around a field when police officers finally arrived with their guns drawn.
One parent found some type of stick and chased Schlitz away from where the children were. Schlitz then began running towards the bleachers. Officers began shouting at Schlitz to “drop it.” When Schlitz continued to move toward the woman the officers opened fire.
Schlitz was shot three times by officers, but he continued to move toward the woman on the bleachers. Officers shot the man three or four more times.
Officials with the Huntington Beach Police Department have confirmed that both officers opened fire. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the shooting.
Angela Hernandez, Schlitz’s mother, told local media that her son had major issues with drugs and that he had been in a psychiatric ward in 2016. Court records show that Hernandez had taken a restraining order out on her son in 2013. She says that at the time Schlitz had threatened her and relatives with knives, chairs, pool sticks, and baseball bats, reports Page1publications.com.
Hernandez stated that she spoke to her son just hours before his death and that he was doing fine. She has accused Huntington Beach police of overreacting.
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy Google Earth