A 73-year-old man in the early stages of dementia was killed by a Bakersfield police officer after a neighbor called 911 and erroneously reported the man was carrying a revolver, authorities said Tuesday. The officer fired seven rounds toward Francisco Serna, who died just feet from his home. But when police searched Serna for a gun, they found only a dark, faux wood crucifix. “My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life,” Serna’s son, Rogelio Serna, said. “He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets.” The shooting early Monday has sparked anger and grief in the San Joaquin Valley and drawn questions about how police respond to the elderly and people with disabilities. It prompted Bakersfield’s newly named police chief, Lyle Martin, to address the criticism and reveal details about the incident. “I cannot tell you enough that this community is affected by Mr. Serna losing his life,” Martin said. “This is a tragic incident.” About 12:30 a.m., a woman arrived at her home in the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue, the same block as Serna’s home, and began removing items from a vehicle, Martin said. When Serna approached her, he was acting bizarrely and had one hand in his pocket, according to Martin. Police said she saw a black- or brown-handled object that she believed was a firearm.
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Photo: NBC News