Two more police officers lost their lives in the line of duty Saturday, and another is hospitalized after being shot while responding to a “family disturbance” in Palm Springs, California.
Around 2:00 p.m. police were called to a disturbance near Sunrise Way and Racquet Club Road.
The Desert Sun reported:
Frances Serrano, who lives directly across the street from where the shooting took place, spoke to the father of the suspected shooter moments before the incident. The father told Serrano that his son, who has mental issues, had a gun and wanted to shoot cops.
“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. Later police knocked on Serrano’s door.
At 2:45 p.m., Serrano said two officers were on her front patio kneeling on the ground with rifles pointed at the shooter’s house.
Gerardo Barrera was working nearby in the quiet residential zone when he heard gun shots. “I saw a person on the ground,” he said. “Someone kept pumping her chest but she wasn’t moving.”
He said police arrived right away.
“It sounded like fireworks at first,” said Juan Garciano, who lives a block from the scene. “I came out of the house and saw police start to block the roads.”
Further details were given in an updated report from the Desert Sun:
“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 Lesley Zerebny and Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega. Reyes said Vega was a 35-year veteran who was due to retire in December and had chosen to work overtime on Saturday. Zerebny is the mother of a 4-month-old baby, he said.
The officers were at the door of a house when the shooting began, Reyes said. “It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire,” Reyes said.
Witnesses reported hearing between 10 to 20 shots, from what sounded like a machine gun. The gunman is still on the loose and dozens of law enforcement officers are involved in the search, maintaining defense positions behind a four-foot concrete wall in the area. They have warned residents to stay indoors.
Palm Springs police and San Jacinto police are reported to be on the scene, with a SWAT truck, at least three fire trucks, and many patrol cars. NBC News reported that police believe they have the suspect barricaded inside a home and the residence is surrounded with law enforcement.
The shooting comes only one day after a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sergeant was shot and killed in Lancaster.
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