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Friday, June 21, 2024

A Gainesville man was shot and killed by police Sunday afternoon after he threatened officers with a knife.

At about 2:45 p.m., John Werner, 49, was drying his clothes in the laundry room at his apartment complex at 935 SW Ninth St. when Ghulam Yahya Mujtaba, 62, came up to him with a switchblade.

Mujtaba took Werner’s clothes out of the dryer, threw them on the ground and threatened him with the knife.

“I thought he was going to stick me with it,” Werner said in an interview Monday.

Werner ran upstairs to his apartment as Mujtaba chased him.

Once inside, Werner called police while Mujtaba banged on the front door with the knife.

When GPD officers Paul Forsberg and Stephanie Pridgen arrived, Mujtaba advanced towards them in the parking lot with the knife.

Officers told Mujtaba to drop the weapon multiple times, but he refused.

“[Mujtaba] said he was going to cut one of the officers if he got close,” Werner said, who watched the scene from his apartment door.

Officers then Tasered Mujtaba, which “did not have an effect on him,” said GPD spokeswoman Cpl. Angelina Valuri.

Mujtaba continued his “aggressive assault” towards police, Valuri said, and officers opened fire.

Mujtaba was then transported to Shands at UF where he was later pronounced dead.

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Valuri said Mujtaba was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and that it was unknown if he was on medications at the time of the shooting.

An autopsy report will be released sometime today, she said.

The Arc, an organization for people with mental disabilities, owns the apartment complex.

Valuri said GPD officers are trained to deal with people who have mental health issues, and police on Sunday shot Mujtaba to protect themselves.

“Our officers did what was needed to protect themselves and the lives of others,” she said.

Contact Chris Alcantara at

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