November 28, 2011 3:57 am Published by

On Halloween morning, JJ Bitz was shot to death by a off duty police detective. Authorities have declined to identify the detective. The detective had walked out of his house and saw JJ and believed JJ was trying to steal a van.

The van had been lent to Bitz by the owner’s son, the owner and his son told The TImes. The detective told the investigating deputies that Bitz had reached for his waistband before the detective shot him, but Bitz was unarmed.

Friends and family believe Bitz got a flat tire while driving the van, parked it and returned early Monday morning to fix it.

Bitz asked his friend, Mike Toth, to drive him back to the van in the morning. In an interview, Toth said he stayed in his car while Bitz went to the van. Toth said he saw a man who was walking his dog approach Bitz and start yelling at him. Shortly after, the detective crossed the street and yelled something. “I saw him coming from across the street, pointing his gun,” Toth said. According Toth, Bitz raised his voice back at the officer, said he wasn’t breaking into any cars, told him to put the gun down and dared him to shoot him. Then he ran. “I didnn’t think he was a cop,” Toth said. “He had pajamas on.”

Other than what he told police at the scene, the detective has so far declined to be interviewed by the Sheriff’s Department, Hernandez said. The detective is back at work after having been placed briefly on administrative leave, said Santa Ana police spokesman Anthony Bertagna.

“I just want JJ back, that’s all I want,” said his sister, Krista Bitz, 24. “JJ was not a threat to anybody.”

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