From LA Times: One officer was killed and a second injured in a shootout with a gang member who was wounded in a Monday morning altercation in Whittier, authorities said.
Three Whittier Police Department officers were responding to the scene of a traffic collision about 8 a.m. when a 26-year-old, recently paroled man driving a stolen car opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. John Corina.
Detectives said the alleged gunman, who is expected to survive, is also a suspect in homicide that occurred in East Los Angeles. They believe he stole a vehicle Sunday morning after killing a man, then drove into Whittier, where he encountered the police.
The slain officer was identified as Keith Boyer, a 27-year veteran of the department.
Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper broke down in tears recounting Boyer, whom he described as a close friend and beloved member of the department. He said Boyer was a mentor to others in the department and had recently talked about retiring.
Boyer played in a community band that performed for charity. At the police station, he was known for his sunny, friendly disposition and willingness to lend help and offer advice, the chief said. “He was the best of the best,” Piper said tearfully during a Monday afternoon news conference. “This is an unbelievably senseless tragedy.”
Piper said the shooting suspect, whose name has not been made public, was released from custody early. He blamed the early release on a series of new laws designed to reduce incarcerations in California.
Neither Piper nor the Sheriff’s Department offered specific information about his record or how he was released early. But the chief said Boyer’s killing showed how these laws have made the streets less safe. “We need to wake up. Enough is enough,” he said.
Two officers were hit by gunfire and taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where Boyer was pronounced dead, Corina said. The wounded officer is in stable condition while the suspect was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
The shooter, according to police, had been involved in a traffic accident with another vehicle near Colima Road and Mar Vista Street, and approached the driver he had rear-ended to help push his silver car to the side of a road around the corner.
Police officers arrived in three cars and approached the man, who was seated in the silver car, Corina said. He got out and as officers moved to pat him down, he pulled a gun from his waistband and began shooting at close range. “He started firing at the officers and they returned fire,” Corina said. “We are still looking into that, why he just opened fire.”
Officers believed they were responding to a routine traffic call and did not know the vehicle was stolen when they approached. “It seems like a simple traffic accident and next thing they know they’re in a gunfight,” Corina said, adding that “you never know when you respond to a call, what you are going to run into.”
Corina said both officers were wearing bulletproof vests and were shot in the body.
Police have not identified the shooter pending the ongoing investigation, but described him as a Los Angeles gang member who had been released on parole within the last two weeks and had many tattoos, including on his neck and face. He was driving a stolen car from East L.A.
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