PURCELLVILLE, VA — A community is devastated after a suicidal teenager was shot to death by police following a family’s call for help.
Christian Alberto Sierra, 17, was a popular student and athlete at Loudoun Valley High School. His friends noticed his good-natured demeanor begin to slip into a depression and ultimately toward the unthinkable. On May 24, 2014, he suffered a breakdown and threatened suicide.
While at a friend’s house on a Saturday afternoon, he began to act erratically and harmed himself with a knife. The Washington Post describes what happened:
Christian began cutting himself with a knife, his mother said, and a friend called 911 shortly after 2 p.m.
Sandra Sierra said the call worried her son, who fled the home in the 100 block of Frazer Drive by jumping off a balcony. A friend gave chase.
Kelly Sobel, a neighbor several doors down, was getting out of the shower when she heard her neighbor scream: “Stop! Stop!”
Sobel glanced out the window and saw the neighbor running down her front steps with a dish towel. Sandra Sierra said her son was bloody at that point.
Sobel said that a second later, she heard Christian Sierra and the friend chasing him barrel into her garage door with a loud boom.
The friend and her neighbor tried to calm Sierra, but he took off again, Sobel said. The friend and neighbor followed, she said. “They were flying down the street,” Sobel said.
Christian Sierra rounded a corner. Several witnesses said they heard a police officer yell “Freeze!” or “Stop!” and then heard shots. Sobel said she heard three or four pops.
Christian was shot an unknown number of times by a Purcellville police officer, who was responding to a suicide call. Christian died shortly thereafter.
His mom, Sandra Sierra, was beside herself when she heard the news.
“I banged on their car and I’m like, ‘You killed my kid. You killed my kid,’” Sandra yelled at the officer.
The officer claimed that Christian “lunged” at him, justifying the shoot. But others claim the officer was too quick to pull the trigger.
“Why would you shoot a child that is suicidal?” asked the teen’s mother. “You are there to save him, not finish him off.”
“They’re supposed to come to help and stop the suicide and they came and killed him,” said Natalie Moriarty, Christian’s aunt, to MyFoxDC.
His friends and family have had to learn a painful lesson that many others have faced; that inviting the government to resolve a crisis will often result in wanton violence and tragedy. Christian Sierra has become another victim on a growing list of folks who have been victimized by those who were supposed to come to help.