PALM SPRINGS, Calif. Authorities say two of three officerswounded in a shooting in Palm Springs have died, Palm Springs Chief of Police Bryan Reyes said.
The incident was unfolding in the area of Cypress and De Lago roads. A Riverside County SWAT team has surrounded a house and is looking for the alleged shooter, according to police. Chief Reyes urged the nearby public to not live stream any of the officers movements on any social media platform as it may put officers lives in danger and hinder the investigation.
At around 8:45, a police robot was on the move in the area of the shooting, CBS Los Angeles’ Jeff Nguyen reported.
Fighting back tears, Reyes identified the slain officers as Jose Gil Vega and Lesley Zerebny. Gil Vega, 63, a 35-year veteran and father of eight was set to retire in December. Zerebny, 27, just came back to work after giving birth four months ago.
The third officer shot is alert and helping with investigation, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Reyes said the three officers were standing near the front door speaking with the man, “trying to negotiate with the suspect to just comply,” when he suddenly shot them.
He said the shooter was not apprehended and may still be in the house. He said Riverside County sheriff’s SWAT officers had the residence surrounded and were now leading the investigation.
Reyes also urged the media and others not to stream live video of police officers’ movements on social media, adding it could put them in danger.
“Understand that we’re actively looking for a cop murderer,” he said.
Dozens of law enforcement officers converged on the normally quiet residential neighborhood in this desert resort city after the shooting. They sealed off several blocks and evacuated some residents.
Police Sgt. William Hutchinson said officers were warning people already inside their homes to stay there, lock their doors and not answer them until further notice.
Although Reyes didn’t identify the shooting suspect, he indicated police had had previous dealings with him.
A neighbor, Frances Serrano, told The Associated Press she called authorities after the father of the shooting suspect came to her house across the street and told her his son was “acting crazy.”
“He said his wife left because she was so scared of him,” Serrano said, adding the father warned that his son threatened to shoot police if they arrived.
She’d gone back inside her home before officers arrived, Serrano said, and a few minutes after they got there she heard gunfire. Moments later officers were knocking on her door, warning her to stay inside.
Serrano said the man police are looking for had been in jail at one time and had to wear a monitor on his ankle when he was first released. But she added that he had always been friendly and polite to her and her family.
“We never had any problems with him,” she said.
The shooting occurred just three days after a popular Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant was shot and killed in the high desert town of Lancaster.
Sgt. Steve Owen was answering a burglary call when sheriff’s officials say he was shot and wounded by a man who then stood over him and shot him four more times.
A paroled robber has been charged with murder.
Lancaster residents were organizing a candlelight memorial for Owen Saturday night.