RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - A friend of the man killed in a deputy-involved shooting last week in Rancho Mirage spoke exclusively with News Channel 3 about her childhood friend.
Diane Ward says Jason Harris, 36, was from Illinois but moved to California for a fresh start. Instead he called about two months ago, telling her he was depressed.
"We were trying to get things together to get him home, and he just disappeared. Tried calling his phone, his phone was off," Ward explains. "He just got into bad choices over there in California, he told me. And he wanted to come home."
Deputy Robyn Flores, public information officer for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, told News Channel 3 Harris was wielding a knife and waving it in the air in the area of Bob Hope and Ramon prior to the shooting.
"It's a shock to everyone here in Illinois that knows Jason. That's not the Jason we know...but we don't know what happened before that. We don't know what triggered him to do that," says Ward, referring to the behavior sheriff's deputies have described as "bizarre."
Flores said Harris was not complying with deputy's commands and was initially tased. When that didn't work, deputies repeatedly ordered Harris to drop the knife, but he did not comply, leading to the deputy-involved shooting.
Harris was pronounced dead in the hospital a short time later.
Ward says Harris leaves behind a 15-year-old daughter, who is stunned by the news of what happened to her father.
"They tried to keep the video from her, but she went on YouTube and saw this video of her dad being gunned down and she can't sleep, she can't do anything."
More: I-Team investigations
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