HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) --A San Mateo County Sheriff's deputy killed an 18-year-old woman who witnesses say was going after her brother with a knife. It's an officer-involved shooting that many in the community believe could have been handled differently.
Relatives admit Yanira Serrano Garcia was armed with a knife, but say that is no reason to justify her being shot and killed.
The shooting took place Tuesday night around 9:30 p.m. at the Moonridge Housing Complex on on Miramontes Point Road east of state Highway 1. The 18-year-old was shot and killed just yards from her house.
Investigators say officers were responding to a family disturbance call.
We talked with one witness who said she was frightened when she saw Garcia with a knife.
"I thought she would try to come after me or do something with me because she was chasing the cop with the knife," she said.
The girl's parents allowed her to talk with us on the condition we don't reveal her identity because she's a minor.
She says the deputy was a few yards away from Garcia when he fired his weapon.
"I just saw her chasing the cop with the knife in her hand and holding it like this, and I just saw him shoot her," she said.
Investigators have not released many details in this case other than to say the deputy who pulled the trigger feared for his life at the time.
Michelle Rangel, who lives nearby, says she got scared when she heard gunshots.
"Well I just heard a gunshot and I came outside," she said. "I heard the mom yelling for help. And she pointed at a cop and she said that that was the cop that killed her and they took the mom somewhere and the girl was just laying down right there. She had a knife following her brother, but we don't know if she was trying to like, actually kill him, or just play around."
Garcia's family says she was on medication, possibly for depression, but any outbursts like this are out of character.
"She was really into Lady Gaga, she wanted to do her own stuff," said Saul Miramontes, the victim's cousin. "I mean she was kind of sick from her mind, whatever, but she was a calm girl."
Irma Miramontes is Garcia's aunt. She says her niece did have issues but she was always very calm and she doesn't believe an outburst like this was possible.
Neighbors say Yanira Serrano Garcia is a special needs child and may have been off her medication when the shooting happened.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's department has identified the deputy that was involved in the shooting as a nine year veteran of law enforcement.
The investigation continues.