"The suspect again opened fire on the officers inside the apartment, and one of our MERGE officers, which is our SWAT team, took a shot at the suspect and actually hit him, and the suspect has been pronounced dead at the scene," San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.
Gunshots were fired, but the 12-year-old hostage was not hurt. She was taken to a nearby hospital to be sure.
She was kidnapped from a house on Taffy Court just before 1:30 a.m. by her mother's former boyfriend.
Relatives who were home at the time said Le, 42, confronted the girl's grandfather in the driveway.
"He saw someone walk up, point a gun at his head and ask where my sister was," Kevin Nguyen, the girl's uncle, said. "Took him in the house, threatened my family, then my dad, and when he couldn't find what he was looking for, took my niece instead."
The girl was asleep in an upstairs bedroom. Witnesses said Le fired two shots inside the house, although police did not find any bullet holes.
Le had a police record for driving under the influence and for domestic violence. .
A tip to police led them to Pistachio Drive and a two-story townhouse at the rear of the complex.
"The suspect opened fire on the officers as they approached the apartment, fired several rounds from inside the apartment, and at this time, the officers believed that the victim was in imminent danger," Dwyer said.
Because shots had been fired where the 12-year-old had been kidnapped, police considered Le armed and dangerous. But it was a mystery that no bullet holes were found. That led to speculation Le might have been shooting blanks.
But when Le fired shots again as police closed in, officers said they had to shoot back.
"When officers are shot at, they don't have time to stop and ask what kind of ammunition it is," Dwyer said. "If they're getting shot at, you're going to return fire."
Police did issue an AMBER Alert, although it lacked a license plate of the dark minivan used in the kidnapping. No one was able to copy down the plate number.