Arlington police release bodycam footage, 911 texts in shooting that killed suicidal man

Police promised help and pleaded with the man who on Nov. 19 officers ultimately shot and killed after he texted 911 saying he wanted police to shoot him, body-camera video released by police Wednesday showed.

Patricio Gamboa, 23, texted 911 around 6 a.m. Nov. 19, saying he had “everything in place” and just needed to pull the trigger and that he wouldn’t be “really harming myself, I’m freeing myself,” images of the text conversation released by police showed.

After desperate requests for Gamboa to put the gun down and promises that whatever he was going through could be solved, bodycam footage shows the 23-year-old man raise a long gun in the direction of police before officers fired at him.

No officers were injured.

The texts also included messages like “will a cop’s vest stop a rifled slug?” and that leaving his gun inside the home as officers on the scene were asking him to do was “not part of the plan.”

In one text message, police records indicate Gamboa described himself as a coward because he couldn’t shoot himself. In several texts, he indicates he needs to find a way to make officers shoot at him.

“I don’t want to hurt him but I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger on myself and I need to give him a reason to put me out,” he wrote in one message.

Officers at the scene closed down the area in the 2500 block of Fallcreek Street and got Gamboa on the phone, police said. In the audio accompanying body-camera footage, one officer’s side of the conversation can be heard.

“I got phone contact,” the officer called out to other police in the area.

Video showed the officer pacing around behind the police line while he talked to Gamboa. He introduced himself to the 23-year-old man and asked him what was wrong. From the side of the phone conversation audible in the recording, it sounds like the officer never got a clear answer.

“Will you do me a favor?” the officer asked at one point. “Will you come out in the middle of the street without the rifle in your hand? I promise we can figure this out.”

The conversation continued with the officer saying things like, “let me help you,” and “we’re not gonna pull the trigger and neither are you.”

“Can you put the rifle down for me?” the officer said. He paused for a few seconds. His voice sounds desperate and pleading. “Please. I want to help you but I need to get close to you. I can’t get close to you if you’re holding that rifle.”

Gamboa ended the call not long after that.

Body-camera video shows police confronting the man in person, as well. Officers appear to take partial cover behind patrol vehicles as the man stands in the middle of the street holding a rifle. One officer called for a less-lethal weapon, but one wasn’t able to be delivered in time.

“I need you to drop the rifle so we can help you,” the officer says at one point. Shortly after, he says, “Drop the rifle and let us help you. We can figure this out, I promise.”

He repeatedly begged Gamboa to drop the rifle.

“We need to meet in a middle ground somewhere,” the officer says. “I need you to tell me how we’re going to meet in a middle ground but can’t help you unless you put down the rifle.”

Gamboa didn’t respond, instead raising his gun.

Police said officers immediately approached Gamboa after shooting him, removed the rifle from his reach and attempted life-saving measures, but Gamboa ultimately died from his wounds at the hospital.

Arlington Police Chief Al Jones said at a news conference Wednesday that, while criminal and internal affairs investigations are ongoing, the evidence at this time suggests to him that the officers did everything they could to resolve the crisis without shooting.

He added that officers may have had less-lethal options at their disposal, but they wouldn’t have been appropriate for the situation “because he was walking toward them with a rifle.”

If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, call 988, the new, three-digit shortcut that will direct callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.