Off-duty police officer who fatally shot man at Central Coast convenience store identified
The Santa Maria police officer who fatally wounded a man in the parking lot of an Orcutt convenience store has been identified as investigators released more video of the events leading up to the shooting.
The fatal shot by Officer Antonio Peña, a three-year member of the Santa Maria agency, occurred on March 25 outside the Melody Market on East Foster Road after an altercation in the parking lot involving two groups, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Raquel Zick.
Manuel Reyes Rios, 19, who had fired a weapon and struck another man, died after being shot by the off-duty police officer. Authorities initially identified him as Jose Manuel Reye Rios.
On Wednesday, sheriff’s detectives shared surveillance videos from exterior cameras at Melody Market and released them on YouTube with a warning that “the videos contain violence that may be disturbing to viewers.”
In a shorter clip released previously from the surveillance camera, Rios was identified as the man wearing the red sweatshirt.
Using two different angles and beginning just before 8 p.m., the video shows two vehicles, with four occupants in each vehicle, arriving separately at Melody Market.
Moments later, Peña arrived in his personal vehicle with his family, and a fourth vehicle, with a woman and two children, also pulled into the parking lot.
“While Officer Peña and the woman were inside the store, the two groups from the other vehicles engaged in a physical altercation in the parking lot,” Zick said. “Officer Peña had returned to his vehicle at the same time that Rios brandished a firearm and shot at the other group, striking one of them.
“Rios paused in his shooting, running past Officer Peña, who had drawn his firearm and police badge.”
At one point, a sedan traveled in reverse and then pulled forward, striking two of the men.
Peña verbally identified himself as an officer and ordered Rios to stop shooting and surrender, but he did not comply.
Instead, Rios raised his firearm and shot again at the other group and toward an occupied restaurant, where a patron was injured from flying debris related to Rios’ shooting.
“Officer Peña fired at Rios until he dropped to the ground,” Zick said.
Investigators have not released how many shots Peña fired or how many struck Rios.
With his urgency evident in the surveillance video released Wednesday, the officer called emergency services on his cellphone, ushered the uninvolved bystanders out of the vehicles into the market and sheltered them inside until deputies arrived while ensuring that none of the culprits returned to the scene.
Rios was pronounced dead at the scene and had a ghost gun in his possession, Zick said.
The remainder of the subjects involved in the altercation, including the person shot by Rios, fled before deputies’ arrival.
The video ends when Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies arrive on scene. This video is posted on the Sheriff’s Office YouTube channel, which can be found by clicking here.
Detectives asked that anyone with additional information contact the Criminal Investigations Division by calling 805-681-4150.
To remain anonymous, information can be provided by calling the tip line at 805-681-4171 or visiting SBSheriff.org.
Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .