WHITTIER (CBSLA.com/AP) – Authorities say a parolee who allegedly shot and killed a Whittier policeman Monday morning may have slain another man and stolen his car only hours earlier.
Veteran Officer Keith Boyer was shot and his partner, Patrick Hazel, was wounded around 8 a.m. in the Los Angeles suburb.
“It looks like he (the suspect) did a murder over there earlier this morning, took the car, and happened to be driving through Whittier when he got in the accident, and then was contacted by the Whittier officers,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said at a Monday afternoon news conference.
The suspect also was wounded in the resulting shootout. His name hasn’t been released. He and Hazel are expected to live.
Investigators say the suspect, a 26-year-old gang member who had been released from jail only a week or 10 days ago, had killed a man earlier Monday in East Los Angeles and stolen a car, which struck another car in Whittier.
“As we’re looking into the stolen vehicle that came out of East L.A. earlier this morning, it was reported, it was part of a murder,” Corina said. “And we do have witnesses that have identified this individual as being the person responsible for that murder.”
Authorities say the man pulled a gun as they prepared to search him.
Boyer and Hazel answered a report of a traffic accident. A motorist pointed out the location of the car that had rear-ended his vehicle, and the officers approached the driver.
“When they get him out of the car, they go to pat him down for weapons, they can see he’s got tattoos all over his face and all over his neck,” Corina said.
The man then pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and opened fire at the officers, who were wearing bulletproof vests and shot back, Corina said.
“They walked up on the vehicle believing the motorist was in need of medical help and then they ended up in a gunfight for their lives,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.
Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper wept as he described Boyer as a friend of more than 25 years.
“All of us have been grieving,” the chief said. “And I didn’t think I had any tears left.”
McDonnell emphasized that the early-release laws voters recently passed may have impacted the suspect’s release from jail.
“AB 109 realignment, Prop 47 and Prop 57,” McDonnell said. “47 stops people going into the system, 57 accelerates their leave in the system and AB 109 basically changed where they do their time. So people who were previously in county jail are now out on the streets.”
“So they get kicked out, they get kicked out early, they’re aren’t given a chance to rehabilitate while they’re in jail,” Corina added.
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