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Francisco Serna, Elderly Man With Dementia Killed by Cop, Was Only Carrying a Crucifix: Police

Community Holds Vigil for Elderly Man Killed by Police 0:57

Francisco Serna, the 73-year-old man with dementia who was killed by California police this week, was carrying a crucifix, not a gun, police said Wednesday.

A Bakersfield officer fired seven shots at Serna early Monday shortly after midnight when a neighbor pointed him out, police said. Serna died at the scene.

Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin said Tuesday that officers had been told that a man was roaming the neighborhood, armed with a revolver and acting bizarrely.

When the neighbor blurted out "That's him!" they turned around to see Serna approaching with his hands in his pockets.

Image: Francisco Serna
Francisco Serna in a family photo. Courtesy of Serna family

Martin said Serna failed to comply with officers' orders to stop and show his hands. The officer who fired the seven shots, Regan Selman, is on administrative leave pending an investigation, along with six other responding officers.

Police confirmed to NBC affiliate KGET on Wednesday that a crucifix was later found on Serna's body — not a gun. The finding was first reported Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times.

Serna's daughter Laura told NBC News this week that her father was diagnosed with dementia in July and that his health had taken a recent turn for the worse.

"My dad was murdered, I believe, for no reason," Laura Serna said.

Martin called the shooting a "tragedy" but said only 20 to 30 seconds elapsed "from the subject saying 'That's him!' to shots fired."

"They're being told he had a handgun and 'that's him,'" Martin said. "It's kind of tough to address that in 20 seconds."