SAN BRUNO -- A San Bruno police officer was trying to arrest two people in a reportedly stolen car early Tuesday when he shot and killed one of them, the first fatal police shooting in the city in two decades, authorities said.

The officer shot the driver, identified late Tuesday as 25-year-old Ryan Salonga of San Francisco,, on the 500 block of Poplar Avenue around 2:10 a.m. after a short car chase, San Bruno police Lt. Tim Mahon said. The officer opened fire because he feared for his safety when the driver tried to escape from a dead end street, Mahon said.

However, Salonga's family questioned why police had to shoot the father of an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter who was working to get his life together.

"The cop said he was a threat, but he was unarmed," said his uncle, Ronald Salonga, 36, of Daly City. "He could have at least given him a warning shot."

It was the second Bay Area fatal police shooting in as many days. Union City police said an officer shot and killed a man -- a parolee -- Monday after he allegedly threatened the officer with a pipe or bar. That shooting remains under investigation.

Police said the confrontation in San Bruno was set into motion when the officer, whose name was not immediately released, checked the license plate of an Acura he spotted driving on El Camino Real near Jenevein Avenue. The check revealed the car was reported stolen from San Francisco, Mahon said.


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The officer was still following the car when it made a quick right turn onto Jenevein and then another right turn onto Poplar, which is a dead end street on that block. The driver tried to turn around and steer the car back toward the officer, who opened fire, Mahon said.

The passenger was not wounded and was taken to jail on arrest warrants that were unrelated to the shooting. Mahon declined to release the passenger's name, who is considered a witness to the shooting.

The San Bruno officer is on paid administrative leave while the investigation is underway. The San Mateo County District Attorney's Officer will decide if the shooting was legally justified.

This was the first fatal officer involved shooting in San Bruno in more than 20 years, Mahon said. About 1½ years ago, a San Bruno officer exchanged gunfire with a suspect, but no one was wounded.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.