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Reports released in February deputy-involved shooting

Posted at 6:05 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 01:39:12-04

The Pima County Sheriff's Department has released reports from a deputy-involved shooting in February. The suspect who died was also connected to a homicide earlier that night.

Deputies say the suspect told the clerk he had a gun and responding deputies saw what appeared to be a gun in his hand. New reports reveal the suspect was carrying a plastic air soft pistol. 

The suspect was identified as 26-year-old Manuel Encinas. The incident occurred at a Circle K on South Nogales Highway on February 19.

Documents from PCSD show the suspect went inside, asked for cigarettes and was declined. The clerk said he then went outside, it appeared like he worked on his vehicle, then went back inside and told the clerk to call 911. At one point the clerk said the suspect told her he had a Glock and he was going to blow her head off.

The clerk then advised the dispatcher she had to go and hung up the phone.

When dispatchers attempted to call back the Circle K, a man answered, sounded upset, and said "Don't mess with me. I have your friend here."

Multiple deputies on scene arrived and the man was still inside the store behind the clerk behind the counter. Investigators called to the scene prepared for a possible hostage situation.

Deputies report that they were giving the suspect verbal commands to let the woman go. 

Deputies reported seeing the clerk exit the Circle K, and the suspect followed seconds later.. The clerk went south and the suspect proceeded northeast out of the door.

That's when deputies say they saw what appeared to be a gun in the suspect's hand. Below is one account from the deputy in the incident report: 

At this point, I visually saw what appeared to be some type of weapon in the suspect's left hand and he appeared to be waving it above his head and shoulders. This was when deputies opened fire and fired rounds into the suspect, who fell to the ground. 

This is what another investigator saw:

When I parked my vehicle, I saw a male exit the store and he was wearing a hat and he had put one of his hands in the air and in that hand was what appeared to be a silver object resembling a gun. I heard loud verbal commands and then there were several shots fired.

Bullets struck the suspect and nearby propane tanks. Large amounts of gas were released into the area.

An off-duty deputy was called in to identify the deceased male. Below is a portion of his account: 

Upon entering the scene, I noticed a male, deceased, wearing white pants and red shoes, and what appeared to be a dark colored shirt. He was also wearing a hat and appeared to have a plastic air soft pistol in his hand. He had obvious signs of gunshot trauma and was lying face up. 

The investigator attempted to find identification on the man and reported he had several tattoos including the work "passion" on his neck with a pair of lips, and "520 Finest" on his abdomen. 

Airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets, but can be made to look like a real firearms.

The suspect was identified as Encinas, who was also the subject of a Tucson Police homicide investigation. He was accused of killing his girlfriend Christine Betancourt a few hours before the deputy-involved shooting. 

The parents of Encinas told investigators everything appeared fine between their son and his girlfriend. According to his family, the two had been together for about two weeks and Encinas had been released from prison in January.

Encinas' family said earlier that night they were eating at Texas Roadhouse, went to Pockets to shoot some pool, then to the family's home. Encinas and Betancourt reportedly then went to Famous Sam's on Golf Links and Kolb. 

The father of Encinas said that his son appeared pretty tipsy and Betancourt had not been drinking much.

The deputies involved in the shooting were placed on leave as is standard with this type of investigation. A spokesperson with PCSD says they are now back on duty.