Los Angeles police officers fatally shot a man on a busy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard on Thursday after receiving multiple 911 calls about a suspect matching the man's description brandishing a gun on the block, police said.
The shooting occurred in front of a McDonald's on the south side of Hollywood Boulevard between North McCadden Place and Highland Avenue, next to the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum and diagonally across the star-lined street from the Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment center.
It immediately caused chaos, bystanders said.
"People started scrambling, and there's kids crying and moms trying to get out of there and tourists confused, and then of course everyone's cellphones started popping out," said Eddie Lopez, a local resident who said he was about 20 feet away, on his way to grab lunch, when the shooting occurred. "It was wild."
Det. Meghan Aguilar, a LAPD spokeswoman, said Hollywood-area officers were called to the area about 11:20 a.m. after police received multiple calls about a man armed with a handgun.
"Some of the comments from those calls indicated he pointed a gun at somebody," Aguilar said.
After finding the man, at least one officer opened fire under still unclear circumstances, Aguilar said. He was later transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Aguilar said.
The man, described as being in his 40s or 50s, was not immediately identified. Aguilar said what was later determined to be a replica handgun was recovered at the scene.
"Exactly what the suspect did with that handgun that led the officers to fire at him will be determined through watching body-worn video and interviewing the officers and the multiple witnesses that were here for the shooting," she said.
Aguilar said it was unclear how many officers opened fire, or how many rounds were fired.
Lopez said the sidewalk was full of people when he heard someone who sounded extremely agitated shout, "Don't touch me." Then, the shots rang out, he said.
He thought he heard two shots, but someone next to him said they heard four, Lopez said.
He then saw an officer performing what he believed was CPR on the man on the ground as other officers began swarming into the area to direct people away from the scene.
"It happened so fast," Lopez said. "We were just in shock, like, 'Whoa, what just happened here?'"
The ambulance, however, seemed to take a long time to arrive, Lopez said.
Aguilar said one other person, a woman, was also transported to a hospital with what she described as a minor injury below the waist. Aguilar said it was not immediately clear how the woman's injury was sustained, or whether it was a result of gunfire.
The LAPD's Force Investigation Division, which looks into all police shootings, was on scene and conducting interviews of witnesses — including people who "encountered the suspect and are potential victims of assaults leading up to" the shooting, Aguilar said.
"It's 12 o'clock on Hollywood Boulevard in July," she said. "We have a lot of people that we need to talk with."
Police expected several blocks of Hollywood Boulevard to be shut down through Thursday evening, including the intersection with Highland Avenue — a major feeder onto the 101 Freeway.
"Traffic, I'm sure, will be heavily impacted," Aguilar said.
Many businesses along the busy tourist stretch were also forced to close as police blocked vehicle and foot traffic through the area.
Emma Colas, 27, said she was working at one of the museums on the block when the shooting occurred.
"The customers thought it was fireworks, but I was like, no, that sounds like gunshots," she said. "Everyone was running back and forth."
Colas said she was interviewed by police about what she'd heard — she thought it was five shots — before being told by her boss to head home for the day.
With yellow police tape in every direction, the heart of Hollywood Boulevard was closed for the day.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.