A man reportedly shot during a gunfight with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives in the high desert town of Rosamond Wednesday is the half brother of Robert Fuller, the man found hanged near Palmdale City Hall whose death is now the focus of local, state, and federal investigations, law enforcement and other sources told NBCLA.
The man in the gunfight, Terron Jammal Boone, who has the same mother as Fuller, was named in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday that charged him with assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, domestic violence and criminal threats, according to LA Superior Court records.
Boone was identified by Fuller's family attorney, Jamon Hicks, who said Boone was killed by deputies during the shooting.
“At this time, until we receive all of the information, the family and their legal team doesn’t have any further comment on this incident. The family respectfully asks that their privacy be respected,” Hicks said in a statement released to reporters.
The sheriff’s department said deputies from a specialized unit had been involved in a shooting after 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on 15th Street West.
"Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau were actively searching for a kidnap, spousal abuse, assault with a deadly weapon suspect," Lt. Robert Westphal told reporters at the scene. "During the surveillance, they spotted who they believed to be the suspect. They followed the suspect for awhile and attempted to do a traffic stop on the suspect. When the suspect stopped his vehicle, he opened the door and began shooting at the deputies and a deputy-involved shooting occurred."
The man was struck several times in the upper body and pronounced dead at the scene, Westphal said.
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A woman driving the SUV was wounded and a 7-year-old girl in the vehicle was not injured. A man at the scene early Thursday told NBC4 that the driver is his sister and the girl is her daughter.
“We’re upset,” Thomas said. “We’re hurt, and we’re angry. We’re handling it the best way we know how, and right now it’s in God’s hands.
“I’m just glad and grateful that my sister is alive and that my niece is alive.”
The sources said several days ago a woman called 911 and said she had been held against her will by Boone in an apartment, where he allegedly demanded information about Fuller’s death. The woman escaped and reported the incident to the sheriff’s department, which resulted in the criminal charges filed Tuesday.
Fuller, 24, was found after 3 a.m. a week ago in Poncitlan Square across from Palmdale City Hall with a rope around his neck. The sheriff’s department and LA County Coroner initially classified the case as an apparent suicide, but agreed to a more thorough investigation after family members and protesters demanded information.
Fuller’s family hired an attorney and said it would seek an independent autopsy.
“To rush to the conclusion that this was a suicide and not a homicide is extremely disturbing. Especially given the manner by which Mr. Fuller was found -- hanging from a tree,” said Fuller family attorney Jamon Hicks. “For African-Americans in America, hanging from a tree is a lynching. Why was this cavalierly dismissed as a suicide and not investigated as a murder?”
On Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the death -- with cooperation from state and federal law enforcement.
During a news conference at the downtown Hall of Justice, Villanueva said he had called state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and reached out to the FBI, whose civil rights division will also monitor the investigation.
“It is in our interest to make sure that we leave no rock unturned,” Villanueva said, promising full access to outside investigators. “This death investigation obviously is of great concern to the community, not only of Palmdale, but throughout the nation. Robert Fuller was a young man in the prime of his life, and his death obviously is painful for many people.”
Hundreds of residents have taken part in vigils and protests in the days since, many condemning what they saw as a rush to judgment to proclaim Fuller's death a suicide without examining the possibility of foul play. Some deemed his death a lynching.
Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas told reporters Monday an autopsy was conducted Friday, but the cause of death has been deferred pending further investigation and toxicology tests. He said the initial report was that the death was consistent with a suicide and there were no signs of foul play.
“Initially there wasn't any evidence that lead us to believe there was anything other than a suicide,” Lucas said.
However, Lucas felt a deeper look was warranted and promised that no finding as to the cause of death would be made until all of the evidence is in hand.
“It is a tragic, sad death … we are doing everything we can to find out what happened,” Lucas said.
Capt. Kent Wegener of the sheriff's homicide bureau said forensic analysis would be performed on the rope used in the hanging and any video evidence closely reviewed.
City Hall and the surrounding government buildings have no outdoor security cameras, according to Wegener. However, investigators are hopeful that nearby businesses -- many of which remain closed -- may have surveillance video of Fuller alone or accompanied entering the park, Wegener said during an afternoon town hall with Palmdale and Lancaster residents.