SAN JOSE -- Cars and heavy trucks rushed along Blossom Hill Road on Friday morning, passing the scene like they do every day.
A piece of police tape here and there; a bouquet of flowers laid down in front of the home. These were the only signs that 24 hours earlier, a 19-year-old woman was shot and killed by police after making threats to her family and claiming to have a submachine gun, revealed afterward to be a cordless drill.
Little additional clarity has surfaced about the Thursday morning shooting in front of a duplex off Playa Del Rey. San Jose police said they were not releasing any more details about the department's second officer-involved shooting this year until Monday at the earliest.
The death of the woman, whose identity has not been publicly released, also reignited discussion about how the dwindling availability of mental-health services has meant police officers are increasingly the first to respond to mental-health crises. Outcry over the shooting was steady in social media, with many wondering whether police had to shoot the woman.
In Thursday's case, the woman who was shot reportedly had bipolar disorder, called 911 and told emergency dispatchers that she had an Uzi and was going to shoot her family when in fact no one else was home.
"This pattern is not going to stop unless we create the solutions for it," said Raj Jayadev, coordinator of the social-advocacy and media collective Silicon Valley De-Bug. "It's on more than just police. It's on us as a city. It's on mental-health providers, elected officials and community advocates."
According to the California Peace Officers Standards and Training commission, as much as 15 percent of police calls in California involve a reported mental illness, and one estimate says 40 percent of officer-involved shootings in the state involve a mental-health crisis. Each year in Santa Clara County, police dispatchers field 4,000 calls involving mental-health issues.
It's why local law-enforcement experts and medical leaders are pushing for more police officers to undergo what is known as Crisis Intervention Team training, a state curriculum that gets them versed in various types of mental illnesses, so that they can better de-escalate potentially violent situations while minimizing harm.
The officer who fired the fatal shot Thursday, 13-year department veteran Wakana Okuma, was CIT certified. SJPD has one of the highest rates in the Bay Area of officers who have undergone the training, at 37 percent.
But the fact that even a CIT-trained officer chose to use deadly force -- Okuma was the only one of about five officers at the scene to shoot -- is indicative of how rapid and unpredictable these kinds of circumstances can be, police advocates say.
"Each situation is unique. Time didn't allow them to go down different approaches," said Sgt. Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.
According to police and multiple witnesses -- some of whom captured the encounter on cellphone video -- the woman emerged from her home with an item in each hand, and at some point dropped one of the items on a grassy berm. But she kept a large black item -- which would turn out to be the drill -- in one hand and continued walking toward the officers in defiance of their orders. As she got close to Wakuma, the officer fired a single shot, hitting the woman. She later died at the hospital.
Neighbor Thien Nguyen, a 22-year-old San Jose State student, said he looked out the window in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and saw the drill.
"I thought it was a gun at first," Nguyen said. "This is really unfortunate."
Unland contends that by the time police were called, with the weapons threat ingrained in officers' minds, de-escalation had to take a back seat to what was believed to be people in danger.
"We're not the people you call for treatment. We're the people you call when treatment isn't being used or utilized," he said. "As our society cuts back on services that used to be provided, more and more the only service left to call is the police."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.