A man who was shot to death by police early Thursday morning in northeast Calgary was threatening an officer with what turned out to be screwdriver, the chief of police says.

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A man is dead after he was shot by police in an armed confrontation in northeast Calgary early Thursday morning. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The incident happened in the 200 block of Whiteview Road N.E. at about 12:45 a.m., police said.

Officers who were investigating stolen vehicles had stopped a truck with three people inside when the situation escalated, police said.

On Thursday Chief Rick Hanson described the events that led up the confrontation.

"So it's all going down really quickly … the officer pursues, he comes between the two houses, into the backyard, there the person turns around, threatens him, comes at him with clearly a weapon in his hand," he said.

"The officer had no option. The weapon turned out to be a screwdriver."

The man, believed to be in his late 30s, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

No police officers were injured. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has taken over the investigation.

Police cordoned off part of 16th Avenue at the University Drive off-ramp in the northwest, as well as the section of Whiteview Road in the northeast where the shooting happened.

"This incident transpired over quite a great distance," said police spokeswoman Emma Poole.