LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officer was wounded Monday morning by a pursuit suspect who led authorities on a dangerous chase that involved several exchanges of gunfire.
The incident began around 2:20 a.m. after officers started pursuing two suspects in a gray SUV for reckless driving at Slauson Avenue and the northbound 110 Freeway, the LAPD said.
The suspects exited the freeway at Vernon Avenue where they first shot at officers, who returned fire.
The men then got back on the freeway where more shots were exchanged after exiting at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The vehicle was then involved in a collision, where the suspects abandoned the SUV and fired again at officers, police said.
Authorities, who had set up a perimeter, were able to locate a 19-year-old suspect who was hiding in a dumpster at 37th Street and Hill.
“We used a flash bang to get him to come out,” and he was arrested, Deputy Chief Bob Green said.
The second suspect became engaged in a gun battle with officers.
“He engaged officers with a rifle. Officers returned fire. The suspect is down and one of our officers is hit,” Green said.
The SWAT officer, who is a 22-year veteran of the force, was struck on the lower left leg below the knee. He was transported to California Hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair a bone shattered by the bullet.
“We did a temporary repair of the bone to put the pieces of the bone back together so that they can start to heal,” Dr. Bryan Hubbard said. “It’s hard to tell in the initial phases, but we’re optimistic he should make a full recovery.”
The gunman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Four northbound lanes of the 110 Freeway were closed throughout the morning while officers searched for shell casings.
“We did find some bullet casings on the freeway right near Vernon, so we had to shut that down so that we could keep the vehicles that were traveling on the freeway from disturbing the crime scene and keep us from getting that evidence,” Smith said.
Smith noted that the 37-year-old suspect was found with an assault rifle.
“The rifle is an assault-type rifle under California law,” he said. “It looked like it had a pistol grip. It had a drum magazine and plastic stock on it. So clearly the drum magazine is illegal to have in California. A rifle configured like that is also illegal to have in California.”
He said it was unclear exactly how many rounds were fired at the three shooting scenes.
“And I don’t know how many rounds are still left in that drum magazine, but that’s an obviously extremely high-capacity magazine. It’s not something we see very often,” Smith said.
Smith said the use of the BearCat, a 2003 vehicle purchased by the department for $150,000, likely prevented other officers from being wounded or
killed in the shootout.
He said, “Thank goodness we had that vehicle, because we have one severely injured officer here, but there are impact rounds on that vehicle as you may have seen from the suspect’s rifle, and we believe that our injured officers or maybe even killed officers count would be much higher had they not been able to use that vehicle as a shield as they went down to take this individual into custody.”
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