Off-duty California officer cleaning gun accidentally shoots himself, kills bystander

SALINAS, Calif. — An off-duty California police officer cleaning his gun last week accidentally discharged the weapon, shooting himself in the hand and killing a 20-year-old bystander, authorities said.

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According to the Salinas Police Department, Francisco Villicana, 22, a member of the Santa Cruz Police Department, discharged a single round at about 5:45 p.m. on Friday, KTVU reported.

According to a news release, officers found Luis Alfredo Ferro-Sanchez, 20, with a wound to his torso.

The bullet traveled through Villicana’s hand and struck Ferro-Sanchez, the Monterey Herald reported. The off-duty policeman called authorities, officials said.

Both men were taken to an area hospital where Ferro-Sanchez died, according to the newspaper.

“This incident appears to be a tragic accident, however, the case will be forwarded to the Monterey County District Attorney’s office for their review,” the Salinas Police Department wrote in its news release.

Villicana was sworn in as a Santa Cruz police officer in February. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcomes of the death and administrative investigations, Santa Cruz police spokesperson Joyce Blaschke told the Herald.

“This tragic incident is devastating for everyone involved, and we acknowledge many people are grieving,” Santa Cruz police Chief Bernie Escalante said in a statement. “Words cannot express the sorrow we feel for the family and friends of Mr. Ferro-Sanchez. We will support them in whatever way we can.”