Los Angeles, CA - Monday marked the first time that an LAPD SWAT team member has fired a rifle from a helicopter while hovering over an active scene.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the incident started at a residence in the 11300 block of Alethea Drive on Monday, when a woman woke up and saw a man in her home. She escaped through a bedroom window, fled, and called police.
Upon officers' arrival, they peered through windows of the residence and saw that the suspect had armed himself with a gun belonging to one of the home's occupants. The officers backed off and called for SWAT. A standoff ensued that lasted for five hours.
Officers surrounded the house, and a bullhorn was used to try to talk the suspect into surrendering. But he had the point of vantage, since the house sits on top of a hill, surrounded by brush and debris.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that the decision to bring in officers that are trained to shoot from a helicopter is not taken lightly. It requires approval from a high-ranking officer, in this case, an assistant chief who had previously discussed the possibility with the Chief.
He said "When the geography and the circumstances dictate, we want to make sure that it’s available. That’s exactly what happened in this instance. The suspect definitely had high ground at all of the ground officers, was firing indiscriminately at them — and actually fired at the helicopter, we believe."
Police fired tear gas into the residence to try to force the suspect to come outside. He was shot when he came out out of the residence and opened fire on officers. After the suspect was shot, he rolled down a ravine. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Multiple officers fired their weapons at the suspect during the shootout, but Chief Beck said that it appears that he was struck by gunfire from the helicopter. His name has not yet been released. The woman who fled the residence was not injured, and none of the officers were injured.
Chief Beck told commissioners on Tuesday, May 9 that it appeared that "department officials acted appropriately when they decided to put SWAT officers inside a helicopter for this incident."
Job well done, LAPD.