A newly released report sheds light on the stated motivations of a man who was shot to death by police during a 2018 standoff in Downtown Long Beach where he threatened to blow up the nearby Federal Building.

Donald MacFarlane was holding a replica handgun and demanding to talk to the “feds” about his kids when Long Beach police surrounded him with armored vehicles and eventually shot him, according to a report on the incident released this week by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

The DA’s office said police were justified in shooting MacFarlane, 53, because they feared he was about to fire on officers and bystanders or detonate “huge explosives” he falsely claimed to have in the back of his van, which was stopped on Ocean Boulevard outside City Hall on the evening of March 7, 2018.

Donald McFarlane told police he had explosives in his van before officers shot him in 2018. File photo.
Donald MacFarlane told police he had explosives in his van before officers shot him in 2018. File photo.

The report also reveals that MacFarlane’s ex-wife had called police before the standoff and told them he was threatening to blow up the Federal Building in Long Beach because he was upset about losing custody of his children and blamed the government.

When officers quickly found MacFarlane’s van outside City Hall, he told them he wanted to talk to the feds because he was angry they “had taken his two daughters away, placed them in federal custody,” according to the DA’s report, which doesn’t explain whether MacFarlane’s claim was true.

Police began negotiating with MacFarlane. According to the report, he told them he couldn’t put down his gun because it was super-glued to his hand, kept insinuating he had explosives in his van, and said “You’re going to have to kill me,” when officers asked how he wanted the situation to end.

After about an hour, police used armored vehicles to box in MacFarlane’s van and officers moved in while repeatedly firing less-lethal sponge rounds at him.

Two officers who had rifles trained on MacFarlane then shot him when he kept a grip on his gun as he fell to the ground, according to the DA’s report.

The officers told investigators they fired when MacFarlane pointed his gun in the direction of officers as he was being hit by the less-lethal rounds.

MacFarlane then tossed the gun and collapsed the ground, according to authorities.

“While the officers later learned the weapon was a replica firearm, this discovery did not change the reasonableness of the officers’ actions,” the DA’s report said.

When bomb squad technicians searched MacFarlane’s van, they found his threat of explosives, too, was fake.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.