Two California police officers were shot dead on Saturday while responding to a family disturbance in the town of Palm Springs, and a third injured as police tried to bring a suspect into custody, officials said.
Following a prolonged hunt for the suspect overnight on Saturday, the county sheriff’s department said on Twitter early on Sunday morning that the suspect had been taken into custody.
The Palm Springs police chief, Brian Reyes, had told reporters at a press conference on Saturday afternoon that officials had set up a “containment area” for several blocks around the house where the shooting took place.
Reyes named the dead officers as Jose Vega and Lesley Zerebny.
Several Swat teams were involved in the search for the suspect, who police said could be outside a perimeter of armoured cars, police cruisers and dozens of officers. Residents had been told to evacuate and to not answer their doors.
“I’m awake in a nightmare right now,” Reyes said. “That’s me, but as the chief of police I’ve got to step forward and stay focused. We will do what we need to do.”
Read the rest:
Suspect arrested 12 hours after fatal shooting of 2 Palm Springs police officers
The Los Angeles Times
Two Palm Springs police officers were fatally shot and another wounded Saturday afternoon while responding to a domestic disturbance call, police said.
Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, more than 12 hours after the shooting, the suspect was taken into custody, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.
In a sheriff’s statement early Sunday, the suspect was identified as John Felix, 26, of Palm Springs, who was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The statement said he surrendered peacefully.
Felix will be booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on two counts of murder of a peace officer, the statement said.
Chief Bryan Reyes said a news conference on the arrest will be held at 11 a.m.
The officers went to the scene in the 2700 block of Cypress Road shortly after noon, police said. They tried to make contact with the suspect, who threatened to shoot the officers through the front door.
“They were responding to a simple family disturbance and [the gunman] elected to open fire,” an emotional Reyes told reporters during an afternoon news conference.
Reyes identified the two victims as Officer Jose “Gil” Vega, a 35-year veteran of the department who was due to retire in December, and Officer Lesley Zerebny, who is the mother of a 4-month-old. He said the third officer, who was being treated at a hospital, was doing well and was helping investigators.
The Palm Springs Police Department turned the investigation over to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Reyes said.
“Today Palm Springs lost two of its brave officers,” Reyes said, his voice quivering. “They go out every day with their boots on the ground. They gave their all for you.”
Late Saturday, police used a remote-controlled robot to open the door to the suspect’s house.
Frances Serrano, who lives on Cypress Road, across the street from where the shooting took place, was coming out of her garage around noon Saturday when her neighbor came bursting out of his own garage.
The man sought Serrano’s attention.
“He said, “Help. I need help. My son is in the house, and he’s crazy. He has a gun. He’s ready to shoot all the police,’ ” Serrano recalled the father saying.
The father “was very nervous,” Serrano said. “He was afraid of his son.”
Serrano, 65, said she called authorities, and as soon as she began walking back into her house, she heard gunshots, “starting with a loud — I mean really loud — ‘bang!’ ”
Law enforcement and the suspect appeared to be exchanging gunfire, she said.
“There were police everywhere,” Serrano said. “I looked out the window and saw police with rifles.” Serrano said she remembered her neighbor’s son, who she believed was in his mid-30s, as “a very nice young man — very polite.”
Juan Graciano, 67, who lives a block away from the suspect’s residence, said he saw officers trying to revive Zerebny. He said he was out in the yard about 1 p.m. when he noticed a crowd gathering at the corner of Cypress and Delgado roads.
“I saw a woman officer who had been laid down in the trunk of a police cruiser,” he said. “There were about four officers around her. I watched as they picked her up and laid her down on the street and began administering CPR. A few minutes later paramedics arrived and took her away.”
By 5:50 p.m. with police on every street corner continuing their search, Serrano said she was “really scared,” and had locked her windows and doors.
“Some are saying [the suspect] is still in the father’s house. Others say he’s on the run,” she said. “I knew there were problems before between the father and this young man. But I never imagined he would do something like this. I don’t want to believe it.
“I feel so sad for the officers,” she added. “It’s like a nightmare.”
Georgie Eden said she was outside doing yard work with her son and her husband when “all of a sudden I hear this pow, pow, pow pow.”
“At first I’m thinking, perhaps it was party poppers in the neighbor’s garden or something, and my husband’s like, ‘Uh, that’s gunfire — get in the house.’ ”
Eden then heard several more rounds of gunfire that seemed to continue for 10 to 20 minutes, she said.
“So we stayed indoors,” she said, “and it was kind of, pretty scary.”
Nothing like this has happened during the three years Eden has lived in Palm Springs, she said.
“It’s horrible to even think that officers are out there and very much at risk because of guns and people that have a lot of mental health issues,” she said. “Just being a human being, it [hits] close to home.”
Lee Weigel, the city’s former police chief and a onetime city councilman, learned of the shooting while out of town Saturday at his son’s baseball game.
Weigel’s friend, who coaches another baseball team, walked up solemnly. At first, Weigel said, he heard that one officer had been shot. Before long, he learned it was three.
“It makes you weak in the knees,” he said.
The police department is relatively small and everyone knows one another, said Weigel, who worked in the department for 32 years.
City officials said the department is made up of 98 sworn officers. The last time an officer was killed in the line of duty was about five decades ago.
“It’s a family,” Weigel said. “This is the worst incident in the history of Palm Springs in terms of officer shootings…. This is shocking, a blow to the entire department and community.”
Times staff writers Vives and Sahagun and staff photographer van der Brug reported from Palm Springs. Stevens and Gerber reported from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Richard Winton and Brittny Mejia contributed to this report.
Gang member suspected of killing two Palm Springs police officers – including a new mom and father-of-eight veteran just two months from retirement – is taken into custody
- John Felix, 26, was taken into custody after a 12-hour standoff with police
- He is a known gang member and was part of an attempted assassination
- Felix is accused of killing officers Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27
- The third officer is ‘alert and well’ at a local hospital after being shot
A man has been arrested after two police officers were killed and one injured after being shot in Palm Springs, California on Saturday while responding to a ‘family disturbance.’
John Felix, 26, a known gang member, was taken into custody at around 12:50 a.m. Sunday morning after a 12-hour standoff with police.
He is accused of killing officers Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega and Lesley Zerebny, and wounding one of their colleagues.
According to the Desert Sun, Felix has ties to criminal organizations and served four years in prison after a failed gangland assassination in 2009.
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Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes identified the two officers killed in a shooting on Saturday as Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega (left) and Lesley Zerebny (right)
Zerebny (above), 27, was a rookie who had only worked on the police force for about a year and a half. She had just returned back to duty after giving birth to a baby girl four months ago
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes (above) said Vega was a 35-year veteran of the force, while Zerebny had just returned back to duty after giving birth to a baby girl four months ago
Saturday’s shooting took place near Sunrise Way and Racquet Club Road in the luxury desert town as officers were responding to a ‘family disturbance’ around 2pm, Sgt. Hutchinson of Palm Springs Police Department said.
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes tearfully identified the two deceased officers as during an afternoon press conference.
‘This is extremely difficult for me,’ Reyes said as his voice was breaking. ‘Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers. They go out every day and put their boots on the ground for everybody in this community, they gave it all for you.’
Reyes said that Vega, a 63-year-old father to eight children, was a 35-year veteran of the police department who was set to retire in December.
He added that Vega was not originally scheduled to work on Saturday, but picked up the shift to work overtime.
Zerebny, 27, was a rookie who had only worked on the police force for about a year and a half, Reyes said as his voice cracked.
He explained that Zerebny had just returned back to duty after giving birth to a baby girl four months ago.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3828813/Three-police-officers-shot-Palm-Springs-witnesses-say-heard-10-gunshots.html#ixzz4Madt0eqF
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Brett Kelman , Gustavo Solis , Jill Castellano , Gabby Ferreira and Ian James , The Desert Sun
3:15 a.m. PDT October 9, 2016
PALM SPRINGS SHOOTING KILLS TWO OFFICERS
Palm Springs police chief: ‘They gave it all for you’ | 7:15
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes holds a press conference on the fatal shooting of two Palm Springs police officers Oct. 8, 2016. Daniel Simon, Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun
Palm Springs police chief shares stories of fallen officers | 6:08
Two police officers were killed and one was wounded in what witnesses described as heavy and sustained gunfire in Palm Springs on Saturday. Felix allegedly shot the three police officers through the closed from door of his house, then barricaded himself in his house and exchanged even more gunfire with officers who responded to the initial shooting.
The shooting plunged Palm Springs into mourning and set off a hunt for the gunman. Investigators remained at the scene of the crime into Sunday morning, calling for Felix to come out of the house. Eventually, Felix was taken into custody peacefully and transported to a nearby hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries, according to a press release from the sheriff’s department.
A press conference outlining more details of the arrest will be held 11 a.m. on Sunday outside the Palm Springs Police Department. Felix is being booked at the Riverside jail. His mug shot was not available as of early Sunday morning.
Felix allegedly told his father he wanted to kill cops moments before the gunfire began.
Frances Serrano, who lives directly across the street from where the shooting took place Saturday, spoke to Felix’s father moments before the bloodshed. The father told Serrano that his son had a gun and wanted to shoot police officers.
“He came over and asked for help,” she said.
Serrano called the police and the father walked back toward his house. Soon after, Serrano heard gunshots.
“Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers,” Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes said at a news conference, his voice shaking with emotion. “I am awake in a nightmare right now.”
The slain police were Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny. They were the first Palm Springs police officers to die in the line of duty since 1962.
Vega was a 35-year veteran who was due to retire in December and had chosen to work overtime on Saturday, Reyes said. Zerebny, 27, had just given birth to a baby girl four months ago. She had been with the department for a year and a half.
READ MORE: Officer killed in Palm Springs had just returned from maternity leave
Reyes said the wounded officer was alert and doing well.
Four officers responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at 12:18 p.m. and were at the door of a house when the shooting began.
“It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire on a few of the guardians of our city,” Reyes said.
“They were out there every day with boots on the ground for our community,” he added. “They gave it all for you.”
A manhunt is in effect after three officers were shot,
A manhunt is in effect after three officers were shot, two of whom have been pronounced dead,it appears someone has barricade themselves inside a home on Cypress Road in Palm Springs, California.
By 2 p.m., dozens of officers massed outside a house on the 2700 block of Cypress Road where Felix had barricaded himself in. Officers in tactical gear took defensive positions behind a patrol car and a concrete wall, pointing rifles in the direction of the house. A helicopter circled over the neighborhood.
More than a dozen patrol cars, three fire engines and a SWAT truck were parked on the street as the events unfolded. The area was cordoned off with yellow tape and neighbors were led away from the scene.
With police surrounding the area, neighbor Juan Garciano said he saw Felix’s father leave the scene with the police, apparently cooperating with them.
After night fell, officers pointed a spotlight at the front door of the house. Using a loudspeaker, officers commanded in Spanish and then English: “Salga con las manos arriba!” – “Come out with your hands up!”
Preliminary 2016 U.S. Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities
January 1 through October 8, 2016 vs. January 1 through October 8, 2015
2016 2015 % Change
Total Fatalities 100 94 +6%
Firearms-related 43 30 +43%
Traffic Related 39 38 +3%
Others 18 26 -31%
Please note: These numbers reflect total officer fatalities comparing
January 1 through October 8, 2016 vs. January 1 through October 8, 2015
2016 Fatalities by State
New Mexico 2
North Carolina 2
New Jersey 1
New York 1
North Dakota 1
South Carolina 1
West Virginia 1
Federal Agencies: 3
U.S. Territories: 3
Note: 2016 is a preliminary count
Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
Note: All data are preliminary and are subject to change.
Tags: John Felix, Jose Vega, Lesley Zerebny, Palm Springs, police killed, Police Killed in U.S., two Palm Springs police officers killed, U.S. crime statistics, U.S. police murdered, violent crime in America