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Woman shot, killed by El Paso SWAT during standoff was armed with pellet gun

A woman shot and killed by the El Paso police SWAT team during a standoff at the Texas Health and Human Services offices was armed with a pellet gun, authorities said Thursday.

The woman, identified Thursday as 38-year old Christine Venegas, was armed with a “CO2 cartridge pellet gun bearing a virtually indistinguishable resemblance to a semi-automatic handgun,” said Sgt. Enrique Carrillo.

Police have said the standoff began after the woman entered the building at 5150 El Paso Drive about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, displayed the gun while confronting a security guard and then made demands to a caseworker about her food stamp benefits — which had been cutoff.

Venegas barricaded herself in one of the offices, police said, while officers evacuated everyone else from the building.

Carillo said police negotiated with Venegas throughout the day before she finally walked out of the office she was holed up in around 3:30 p.m. and confronted the SWAT officers in the building.

“Less-lethal munitions were used in attempt to subdue Venegas, but she raised the weapon and pointed it at the SWAT team. An officer then engaged by firing at her with his patrol rifle,” Carillo explained.

Venegas was rushed to University Medical Center, where she died a short time later from her injuries.

The 14-year veteran SWAT officer who fired the deadly shot(s) has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is typical in officer-involved shooting cases, while the Texas Rangers investigate the incident. The officer’s identity has not been released.

Authorities remained on scene Thursday at the HHS facility; some people parked in the lot for the building complained they were still unable to get access to their vehicles because of the ongoing investigation.

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