La Mesa officer shoots man accused of threatening 13-year-old girl

LA MESA, Calif. -- A La Mesa police officer shot and wounded a man who was armed with at least three large knives Monday morning while responding to a call of a knife-wielding suspect who was reportedly chasing a 13-year-old girl.

The officer-involved shooting happened just before 9 a.m. near Fletcher Parkway and Amaya Drive, according to the La Mesa Police Department. La Mesa officers closed that intersection while the California Highway Patrol closed both northbound and southbound offramps from state Route 125 to Fletcher Parkway.

The suspect, later identified as 34-year-old Bernard Graham of Spring Valley, suffered gunshot wounds to his abdomen and one of his arms when the lawman opened fire on him near La Mesa Skatepark, according to police.  Paramedics took Graham to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was in stable condition as of late afternoon, La Mesa Police Department Capt. Ray Sweeney said.

The mother of the 13-year-old girl said her daughter was on her way to school when a man with knives confronted her.

She said the man threw a knife at her daughter, but did not hurt her. Then she ran across the street to a Subway to call 911 to report a man chasing her with at least one knife.

“She said he appeared to be on drugs – she couldn’t understand anything he was saying, he was mumbling. She knew to get away," said Tammy Brown, the girl's mother.

When officers arrived, the unidentified suspect allegedly refused commands to drop his weapon and made a move toward an officer with machete-type knives in each hand, prompting an officer to fire.

The teenager was reportedly emotionally shaken but physically uninjured.

“I’m very thankful for the girl in the Subway who let my daughter in and let her use the phone and that she’s safe," said Brown.

The patrolman who shot the suspect was placed on paid desk duty pending completion of investigations in the case, as is routine in officer- involved shootings. His name was not immediately available.

Graham was expected to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and criminal counts involving his alleged attack on and harassment of the schoolgirl.