Sniper Who Ambushed L.A. County Sheriff's Station Escapes After Shooting Cop
Lancaster, CA - Police are still searching for the sniper who ambushed a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in the Lancaster station parking lot on Wednesday afternoon.
The incident occurred at about 2:45 p.m. at the station in the 500-block of West Lancaster Boulevard as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Angel Reinosa was walking to his car in the employee parking lot, KABC reported.
"I have taken shots from the north of the Lancaster helipad," Deputy Reinosa radioed the dispatcher after he was wounded. "I think I'm hit in the right shoulder. It might have gone through.”
The deputy told dispatchers that he believe the shots had come from the apartment complex beside the sheriff’s station, KABC reported.
There is a four-story residential building with a mental health facility beside it next to the sheriff’s staff parking lot.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from the apartment building as deputies conducted a floor-to-floor search for the shooter, KABC reported.
A school that was considered to be in shooting range for the gunman was immediately locked down and students were evacuated, according to CNN.
Small teams of deputies dressed in tactical gear did a car-by-car search in a parking structure nearby the sheriff’s station parking lot.
Residents told KABC that the subsidized-housing apartment complex was not a safe place to be.
Numerous patients of the mental health facility next to the public housing apartment project are residents there, although authorities said the building was not constructed to house mental health patients.
"They let people live in our apartment complex who have mental illness," Terrisa McGhee told KABC. "It's kind of scary because there's no security onsite 24 hours. Management is never here when things happen. The cops are in there constantly. So it’s not a surprise."
The search of the complex, conducted by deputies wearing full protective gear in 105 degree temperatures, ended just before 11 p.m.
Two people were taken into custody, but neither was considered a suspect, KABC reported.
Officials said they were taken into custody for being uncooperative during the search and ignoring evacuation orders.
The wounded law enforcement officer, 21-year-old Deputy Reinosa, is a patrol trainee who has been with the sheriff’s department for about a year and assigned to the Lancaster station for three months, KABC reported.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Captain Todd Weber said that sheriff’s department officials were grateful Deputy Reinosa wasn’t more seriously wounded.
"He's been treated, he's doing well in high spirits," Capt. Weber said during a press conference on Wednesday night. "His family's with him. We expect he'll be fine, full recovery."
A bullet hit the deputy in his ballistic vest and ricocheted up to his shoulder, KABC reported.
The vest took the brunt of the force and Deputy Reinosa did not require surgery.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris seemed shocked and saddened when he appeared before reporters.
"As the mayor of Lancaster, I can't begin to tell people how sorry I am that we now live in a city where this occurs," Parris said. "It shakes the core of everything we have."
"A sniper took out one of our deputies," he said. "And the only reason that deputy is alive is because he had his vest on."
"He was getting ready to take that vest off. Had he done so, it would've been a much more tragic situation,” the mayor continued.
"He's in a lot of pain but he's going to be OK," Parris said. "He took a bullet here but he had his vest on, so it deflected up and hit his shoulder."
The mayor said the shooting was random and that they didn’t think Deputy Reinosa had been targeted.
"It was not targeted on this specific deputy,” he said. “It was any deputy would do."
The mayor praised the sheriff’s department’s fast handling of the dangerous situation and pointed out that the outcome could have been far worse.
"We cannot live in a society that this happens. It's beyond comprehension to me that this occurred in our city," Parris said.
There was no suspected gunman in custody after deputies finished clearing nearby buildings on Wednesday night and the hunt for the shooter continued into Thursday morning.
Authorities did not have a description of the gunman, nor did they know if he was a resident of the apartment building or a patient of the mental health facility, ABC News reported.