A Texas police officer fatally shot a man armed with a gun while stopping a catalytic converter theft, officials say.
Corpus Christi Interim Police Chief David Blackmon said the officer was walking through a parking lot Monday morning when he spotted a man under a vehicle cutting off a catalytic converter.
As the officer attempted to arrest him, another man approached him and pulled out a handgun, police said. The officer let go of the man and “subsequently engaged the second subject” and shot him, police said.
The man was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries.
The man the officer first attempted to arrest ran away, and he hadn’t been found by the afternoon, police said.
The police officer was put on administrative leave.
“Not saying they did anything wrong — it’s for the mental health of that officer as well as the investigation,” Blackmon said. “We want to make sure that we do everything properly so we put them on administrative leave. The officer will be brought back as soon as we can.”
Catalytic converter theft is “skyrocketing” in the U.S. since March 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In 2020, there were an average of 1,203 thefts per month compared with 282 per month in 2019, according to the organization.
The values of the metals used to manufacture the device — platinum, palladium, or rhodium — have increased “significantly,” and recyclers pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Corpus Christi is a city on the Gulf Coast about 150 miles south of San Antonio.