Escondido police say Aaron Devenere was unarmed when shot by officer following pursuit

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - A man fatally shot by an officer after he allegedly led police on a 25-mile pursuit early Sunday morning was not armed despite telling authorities during the chase that he had a gun and an explosive device.

Aaron Devenere, 27, allegedly claimed to have a pistol and a bomb while talking to 911 operators during the lengthy pursuit, which began when San Diego police tried to pull over the truck in which he was riding on Interstate 15 near Aero Drive for expired registration shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday.

Though Devenere turned out to be unarmed, the driver of the Toyota pickup believed he was holding her at gunpoint and sped away from officers "out of fear that Devenere might harm her," according to Escondido police Lt. Neal Griffin.

"The victim said that Devenere had an object pushed against her side that she was certain was a gun," Griffin said. "In order to control her movements, Devenere grabbed the victim by the hand and threatened to break her fingers. The victim did, in fact, sustain a sprain to one of her fingers from the suspect's actions."

Devenere, a San Diego resident, spoke to police dispatchers throughout the chase, referring to the driver of the truck as his hostage and threatening to shoot her, Griffin alleged.

During the conversation, Devenere said things such as, "I have this girl … I told her not to pull over … I have a gun in the car that am I pointing at her."

When an emergency operator sought to confirm that Devenere had a gun, he replied that he did and also was armed with "an explosive device," according to the lieutenant.

The woman -- who knew Devenere and initially had been driving with him voluntarily -- eventually ran over a police spike strip that flattened two of her tires and forced her to pull over on Centre City Parkway, near Country Club Lane.

"When the victim (stopped) along the side of the road, officers on scene believed (she) was an imminent danger of being killed," Griffin said. "One officer fired one shot, striking and killing Devenere. The victim did not sustain any injuries as a result of the actions of the officers on scene."

The driver later told police she initially thought Devenere had shot himself, "indicating how convincingly he had feigned to be armed," Griffin said.

"The victim was under the impression and certainly convinced that the suspect was armed with a firearm. He said that he was and he pushed an object against her ribs," he said.

The only potential weapons found in the truck were some knives in the cargo bed.

Medics took the woman to Palomar Medical Center for treatment of injuries allegedly inflicted by Devenere. She was treated for a hand injury and says the suspect threatened to break her fingers.

She was not expected to face any charges over the pursuit.

Her identity was not released, but 10News learned the truck is registered to a woman named Lauren Love.

"The Escondido Police Department considers her the victim of a kidnapping," Griffin said.

The name of the officer who shot the suspect had not been made public as of late Monday afternoon.

According to Escondido police, a search of the truck determined there were "no firearms or explosive devices inside the vehicle."

10News looked into Devenere's background and learned he has been in and out of jail since 2007 for crimes ranging from burglary to drugs.

According to San Diego police, Devenere was also arrested in 2008 along with 100 others during an undercover drug bust on the campus of San Diego State University.

Devenere's family told 10News they are still struggling with why police had to kill him.

"It's so sad to me they shot and killed him for no reason – for what – because cause he made a threat … a lot of people make threats," said Devenere's aunt, Julie Hurd.

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