Posted on July 8, 2012 at 5:44 PM
Sunday, Jul 8 at 10:16 PM
DENTON – Denton police shot and killed an armed man early Sunday morning.
Friends of the suspect say Justin Beltran had been out celebrating his 26th birthday earlier that evening before he was shot.
“He was like a son to me,” said Mike Birk, who employed Beltran at his mechanic shop for the past seven years. Police followed Beltran to Birk’s house and shot him in his front yard.
“I really can’t make any sense of it,” he told News 8.
The incident began around 2:30 a.m. after witnesses saw Beltran shooting his rifle from his truck near Dunes Street, police say. Arriving officers followed him for a couple of miles to Birk’s home on the 3300 block of Hartlee Field Road. It’s unclear why he drove to his boss’ house.
“He stopped, got out of his car with weapon in hand,” said Officer Ryan Grelle, with the Denton Police Department. “Officers were demanding him to put the weapon down. He never did and that’s why the shots were fired.”
Grelle said the officer fired only once and that Beltran never shot at officers. He was taken by helicopter to Medical City of Plano where he was pronounced dead. The Texas Rangers are now investigating the shooting.
Neighbor Todd Madison said he was awakened by the repeated shouts of officers.
“’Get down, get down, get down,’” he said he heard the two officers shout. “And then, there was a shot and that was it.”
Court documents show Beltran has been arrested before in recent years for theft and domestic abuse.
Birk said Beltran worked hard repairing starters and alternators at his small shop to provide for his girlfriend and two children.
“He wouldn’t do something like that,” Birk said. "He was just as happy as he could be and full of life. It’s just terrible.”