A story for every victim

Robert James Hess, 60

Robert James Hess, a 60-year-old white man, died Thursday, Dec. 15, after he was shot by sheriff’s deputies in the 15600 block of Windrush Drive in Hacienda Heights, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

Hess had been with relatives in Downey that afternoon discussing family financial matters, when he became upset and began making threats, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza. 

Downey police officers went to the 7300 block of Hannon Street about 1 p.m. after receiving a 911 call saying that Hess was threatening family members with a knife and a gun, Mendoza said. 

When officers arrived, Hess was driving away from the house on his motorcycle, Mendoza said. He allegedly evaded officers when they tried to stop him, and the officers gave chase, following Hess onto the southbound 5 Freeway.

The pursuing officers lost Hess when he turned north onto the 605 Freeway, Mendoza said,  but they later learned that he lived on Windrush in Hacienda Heights. 

Two uniformed Downey officers went to Hess’ residence in an unmarked police car and spotted him walking his dog near his home about 9:45 p.m., Mendoza said. 

The officers tried to detain Hess, “but he became uncooperative and didn’t listen to their commands,” Mendoza said. “And then he tells them he has a gun.”

Mendoza said the Downey officers called for help from the Sheriff’s Department because they were in their jurisdiction. When the deputies arrived, they tried to talk to Hess as well, Mendoza said. 

“He was still standing outside, in the middle of the street with his dog, and the attempts to get him to surrender peacefully went on for over an hour,” Mendoza said. 

Hess allegedly threatened to use his gun and then reached into his pocket. One of the deputies shot him with a bean bag gun.

“It didn’t do anything to him. He just stood there and took it,” Mendoza said. “Then he armed himself with his gun. He didn't point it at the deputies, but he was moving it toward their direction. Witnesses said he was actually pulling on the trigger when the deputy-involved shooting occurred.”

Hess was shot by at least one deputy and pronounced dead at the scene at 11:35 p.m., according to coroner’s records. 

Investigators found a handgun that had not been fired, Mendoza said. It was sent for ballistics testing, he said, so investigators don’t know yet if it was loaded.

Hess’ dog was not injured, Mendoza said. Investigators called animal control officers, who took the dog into protective custody. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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