Crime - Sacto 911

Dad thinks man started North Sacramento shootout in suicide attempt

The man wounded in a North Sacramento shootout with police this month may have triggered the gunbattle in an attempt to end his life, according to his father.

Armani Lee, 28, appeared before a Sacramento judge Tuesday for the first time since the Feb. 10 shootout with Sacramento police and a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy that sent Lee to a hospital with gunshot wounds.

Lee did not enter a plea at his arraignment before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard Sueyoshi. Lee, who was discharged from an area hospital over the weekend, will return March 7 for further arraignment on a number of charges including violating parole and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

“For him to behave that way, he reached a point where he didn’t care,” Lee’s father, Robert Lee, said in a telephone call to his Pennsylvania home. “He should be punished for what he did, (but) he was probably trying to commit suicide. There’s no doubt about that.”

Authorities say Lee had been under surveillance following a Feb. 4 shooting, when he was spotted leaving a home on Land Avenue and heading toward the 2900 block of Del Paso Boulevard.

Sacramento police officials say Lee saw the officers and fled, ultimately firing at a police K-9 patrol cruiser. The K-9 handler, another officer and a sheriff’s deputy returned fire, striking Lee multiple times. The officers and deputy were not injured and were placed on administrative leave while the shooting was investigated.

The elder Lee said he is still trying to learn more about a case he called “very complicated” and hire an attorney for his son, but said Armani Lee had “gravitated to the streets” in recent years and that his son had attempted to take his own life while in jail before the gunfight two weeks ago.

In Sacramento, Armani Lee had bounced from the streets to jail to a halfway house. His father said Tuesday that he had hoped to get him away from trouble and gangs in California and line up work in Pennsylvania, where the elder Lee and Armani’s grandmother live.

“He has a lot of family in Pennsylvania,” Robert Lee said. “If he got back out on the streets, if the cops weren’t going to get him, the gangs would.”

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith