A disoriented woman holed up in a minivan and repeatedly stabbing herself in the neck was shot to death by local police officers who thought the distraught woman was lunging at them with a knife or pick ax.

But the 45-year-old Maria Irma De La Torre had only a metal crochet hook in her hand, the Salinas Californian reported Monday.

Officers responding to a "woman acting strangely call" at 3:45 a.m. Sunday saw the woman "stabbing herself in the neck with a small implement."

As officers tried to get her out of the minivan, she allegedly lunged at them with what was thought to be a knife or a pick ax and the officers fired. Cmdr. Kelly McMillin says the officers thought their lives were in danger. She was shot twice in the torso, and died later at a local hospital.

"It's a wrongful death," Diana Hernandez, De La Torre's niece, told the Californian. She added that De La Torre suffered from epileptic seizures but had no history of violence or hurting herself during seizures. She was taking medication to control the seizures, Hernandez said.

Click here for more on this story from the Salinas Californian.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.