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Man dead after being shot by officer in Beeville, officials say

An officer shot and killed the man after the man pulled out a knife during an encounter with the officer, the Beeville police chief said.

BEEVILLE, Texas — Beeville Police Department have identified the man who died in a shooting at a Beeville motel, as well as the officer who reportedly pulled the trigger.

Just after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, police were called to the OYO Hotel in Beeville for reports of a man by the name of Jerry Lee Esparza banging on hotel room doors. When Lt. Kenneth Jefferson, who was the first officer on scene, confronted Esparza, Esparza proceeded to pull out a knife and moved toward the officer "in a threatening manner," according to Beeville Police Department. 

After ordering Esparza to stop and not come closer, Jefferson drew his issued sidearm and shot Esparza in the upper chest. EMS later arrived to the scene shortly after to try and revive Esparza, but despite efforts, Esparza died at the scene.

Beeville Police Chief Kevin Behr said Esparza approached the car with what he believed to be a knife, which is why Jefferson discharged his firearm.

"We have looked through some of the tapes. We saw this man approach the patrol car In a very aggressive manner," Behr said. "What I would describe as an aggressive manner. Something is in his right hand and he's screaming and yelling. I believe at the officer and as he came closer the officer engaged him with his pistol."

The investigation is now in the hands of the Texas Rangers. Jefferson is on restrictive leave. Meanwhile, Jerry lee Esparza's mother, Frances Esparza Contreras, told 3NEWS that her son had spent eight years in prison. He recently bonded out of the county jail on July 1. She said that she and other family members were paying for him to stay at the hotel. However, she doesn't know how he ever got a knife.

"I don't know how he got a knife or attacking the policeman," Contreras said. "Cause he didn't have no gun or knife. I don't know why they say that. I don't know where he got the knife."

Mrs. Contreras did tell 3NEWS that her son had promised her that once he got out of prison he was going to turn his life around and settle down and have children. Instead, she will now be burying her son.

Beeville Police Department is currently investigation an officer involved shooting at the OYO Hotel. Please stay away from the area.

Posted by Beeville Police Department on Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Bee County Sheriff's Office is assisting the Beeville Police Department at the scene. 

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