ANAHEIM (CBS) — A gunman who opened fire on an officer at the end of a stolen-car pursuit was killed in Anaheim’s second fatal officer-involved shooting in two days, authorities said Monday.
The shooting climaxed an incident that began around 11:20 p.m. Sunday, when anti-gang officers spotted a known gang member on probation in what they soon determined was a stolen car, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. They were pursuing the vehicle when the driver lost control in the 400 block of West Guinida Lane, and two men and a woman bailed.
“The officers were in foot pursuit for about a half-block when one male suspect fired at the officers,” Dunn said. “The officers returned fire, striking the suspect, who was dead at the scene.”
A witness heard the squealing tires and gunshots, KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reported.
“I heard like four or five gunshots,” the witness said.
A gun was found next to the body, Dunn said, adding that the second male suspect was detained, but the female got away, and a perimeter search for her was under way.
It was not immediately determined if the suspect who fired on officers was the gang member on probation, Dunn said.
“One of the things that concerns me every day and every night is we try to impress upon our offices to do what they can, restrain their use of force until the last moment, but you can’t wait for someone to shoot at you because if you do, it may be too late,” Chief John Welter of the Anaheim Police Dept. said.
The shooting came as demonstrators were lighting trash containers and pushing them into the street on La Palma Avenue near Anna Drive in a second night of protests against a fatal officer-involved shooting on Saturday afternoon.
In that incident, documented gang member Manuel Diaz was fatally shot in front of an Anaheim apartment complex following a foot chase. The 35-year-old later died at a local hospital.
Two officers were placed on paid leave as result of the Diaz shooting, even though one fired the fatal shot, police said. Where and how many times Diaz was shot remains unknown, but police are promising a lengthy investigation.
A crowd estimated at around 100 people gathered at the shooting scene but were dispersed by police. Following news of Diaz’ death around 7 p.m. Saturday, a group of angry people reassembled near East La Palma Avenue and Anna Drive.
“As officers attempted to detain those people, a group attempted to encircle the officers,” Dunn said. “We used pepper balls and non-lethal shotguns.
“During that time, one of our canine officers was assisting, and the canine accidentally came out of the vehicle,” Dunn said. “Officers were able to get the canine back into the vehicle, and we don’t know how many, if any, people were bitten.”
Dunn said officers did not intentionally let the dog loose on the protesters, who pulled a trash bin into the street and set its contents on fire. A police car was damaged, Dunn said.
Police say the area off of La Palma is known for gang violence.
Alex, a resident La Palma Avenue, didn’t want to show his face on camera because of the growing tension with police, but told CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Melissa McCarty, “We’re all human beings. Just because we hang out with a group of people, [officers] just want to judge and say, ‘He’s a gangster, so why not? There’s nothing wrong with shooting a gangster,'” he said.
In Sunday night’s unrest, officers and firefighters monitored the protest from a distance, determined not to break it up unless it began to impede traffic or the burning trash cans began threatening lives or property, Dunn said.
“Several times, when we responded, they threw debris and bottles at us,” Dunn said.
Protesters stormed the Anaheim Police Department lobby earlier Sunday demanding an independent review of officer-involved shootings in the aftermath of the death of Diaz.
“We’re not hiding anything,” said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter, adding that the District Attorney’s Office would be investigating the Diaz shooting, as is routine in such cases.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait urged the State Attorney General to conduct an investigation as well.
“Whatever the truth is, we will own it,” he said.
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