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Police Shoot Woman Threatening Cat With Knife

August 22, 1994

GRESHAM, Ore. (AP) _ A schizophrenia patient who held her Siamese cat at knifepoint inside a grocery store was shot and killed by police who said they had no choice when she lunged at them.

Janet M. Smith, 28, was shot two or three times Sunday, witnesses said. Police had sprayed Mace at her first as she walked toward them with the 6- inch-blade folding knife.

″She then raised her knife above her head and charged the police,″ said Sgt. David Lerwick, a police spokesman. An officer fired because ″the knife was a deadly weapon. It could kill,″ Lerwick said.

Smith suffered from schizophrenia and had been hospitalized a couple of months ago, said Duane Bigoni of the state Medical Examiner’s Office. She lived with her grandmother a few blocks from the store.

Witnesses said she walked into the store with the loudly meowing cat and a knife. ″She said someone was after her, and that she wanted someone to call the police,″ said Matthew G. Christen, a produce worker. ″She didn’t seem too crazy. She just looked afraid.″

Smith told employees she was thirsty, got a soda and sat down against the soda cooler, still clutching the cat and the knife.

″She said she didn’t want to do any harm,″ said Mandy Kerr, a cashier.

Managers blockaded the aisle at either end with rows of shopping carts, moved bystanders away, and called police.

Smith threatened to kill the cat when officers asked her to drop the knife, Lerwick said.

Smith dropped the cat as she was shot. It couldn’t be immediately found and apparently was hiding somewhere in the store.

The officer who shot her was placed on administrative leave while the incident was reviewed, Lerwick said.

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