Sheriff's office: Man shot by cop had stabbed father

BEAR VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) -- A Bear Valley Springs man who had stabbed his father was shot and killed by police Saturday night. The shooting happened just before 10 p.m. when a Bear Valley Springs officer showed up to investigate a disturbance call.

Bear Valley Police Chief Rod Walthers said Senior Officer Brad Richie arrived at the home in the 29000 block of Pinedale Drive. He spotted one man coming toward the patrol car, with another running behind.

"It was at this time that Officer Richie observed that this subject was being chased by another male who was holding two knives in his hand," Chief Walthers told Eyewitness News. "Officer Richie ordered the subject to stop and drop the knives. The subject refused to drop the knives and stated to the officer that he was going to kill the officer."

Chief Walthers says the officer pulled out his service weapon and fired one shot at the approaching suspect. That suspect has been identified at 21-year-old Christopher Wenning of Bear Valley Springs. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Neighbors in the gated community near Tehachapi were saddened by the incident.

"It's a shame that someone has to get shot, but if they're endangering somebody else's life, then he (the officer) had to make a choice and do what he had to do," Jim Uribe said.

The sheriff's office confirmed Monday that Wenning allegedly stabbed his father, 65-year-old Kenneth Wenning. He was taken to Kern Medical Center with what are described as non-life threatening injuries.

A woman living near the incident said the family is not doing too well. Other neighbors called the incident a tragedy.

Chief Walthers could not say who had made the 911 call that brought the officer to the scene of the stabbing, and could not say if there were other witnesses. No one in law enforcement has spoken to motive for the alleged stabbing.

Investigators did recover two knives from the scene, Walthers said, which he described as "large." The chief said the suspect was about ten feet away when the officer fired his weapon.

Due to the small size of the BVS Police Department, the Kern County Sheriff's Office is investigating the stabbing. Under a standing arrangement, the Kern County District Attorney's office is reviewing the conduct of the officer.

Chief Walthers said officer Richie has been place on routine, paid administrative leave. He said Richie has been with the department for about nine years.

Bear Valley resident Jim Uribe said he's lived in the community for about 13 years. "We're starting to have more crime," he said Monday. "We've had thefts and robberies."

But, Uribe says the community seems satisfied with responses by the BVS Police. "They're pretty happy with the police department," he said -- adding he's glad officers are so close by.

Resident Tom Lawters shares that view. "I have a lot of faith in the police department here, " he said. "I have a lot of respect for them, and I think they're doing a good job."