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Officer-involved shooting in SE Austin leaves one dead

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Four Austin Police Officers were on paid administrative leave on Wednesday after they opened fire on a man in East Austin and killed him.  Investigators said the man pointed a rifle at police giving them no other choice.

The incident started as mental health call with man's brother calling police. 

That man was later identified as 54-year-old Herbert Babelay.  His roommate described him as generous and a good friend. 

"He just got off his meds, he's bipolar, broke up with his girlfriend, seems like they was really nothing that could calm him down except for music," said his roommate Richard Brinkman.

Brinkman said he did not believe Babelay was suicidal but said family called police because he was acting erratic.

"Several days ago the family learned Mr. Babelay had stopped taking his medications  for his mental illness and consistent with that illness, they know he has a history of becoming violent irrational and angry," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

Police say when they arrived around 8:40 PM on Tuesday Babelay was threatening to kill himself and possibly others. They tried to get him out of the house but say he went to a shed behind the house and grabbed a rifle. Police say he then threatened the officers and aimed it at them. That is when four officers shot him.

Acevedo said multiple rounds were fired, some of which hit surrounding homes. He also said three of the four officers were using long rifles.

"From a tactical perspective, under what circumstances should we use the long arms, our own AR's MP 15s and long rifles?" asked Acevedo. "Are shotguns more appropriate?"

This case started out like many others for the Austin Police Department's Crisis Intervention Team. When officers are called, certified mental health officers respond.

They have an option of making a peace officer emergency commitment where the person is held for 48 hours pending a doctor's exam.

Police officials say the number of commitments and mental illness reports is going up.

In 2008, APD had 6558 reports with 1277 emergency commitments. Every year since then the numbers have steadily increased.

"This investigation has revealed according to neighborhood reports the suspect Mr. Herbert Babelay in the middle of the night approximately 4:00 AM, came out into the yard discharged quite a few rounds into the air," Acevedo said.

Brinkman told FOX 7 that Babelay was angry over an incident early that morning when his brother took the guns.

"One of the things he was upset about was that his brother had come by, broke the door down to take the guns out because he was shooting them off the night before," Brinkman said. "So one of the roommates called the brother to take the guns. While he was at his sister's house, he tried to get the police to go over there to pick him up and take him to the hospital. They missed him, pulled in here."

Acevedo said that this case highlights why he supported the universal background check that failed to pass Congress earlier this month.

The four officers were relatively new to the Austin Police Department. Their experience ranged from three years to one month with the Austin Police Department.

It is standard protocol to be placed on paid administrative leave following a shooting.

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