LANCASTER (CBSLA) — The condemnation is both swift and palpable.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris are among those speaking out Sunday following the shocking reveal that deputy Angel Reinosa — who said he was shot at by a sniper last Wednesday — made the entire story up.
At a news conference Saturday, officials said Reinosa admitting to tearing his own shirt to make it appear he had been wounded.
Wrote Villanueva in a statement, “When the news broke on Wednesday, I dropped everything I was doing to be at Lancaster and check on the welfare of Deputy Reinosa. Like many responding personnel, I spent needless time and energy on something that did not happen. Rather than delay reporting what we learned for another day, I felt that it was urgent that we share the truth with the public. As Sheriff, I am responsible for my deputies and am embarrassed & incredibly disappointed at what this Deputy did. I apologize to our community and our elected officials who rallied in our support.
During the investigation we had suspicions concerning the validity of the claimed assault but had to exercise care before accusing an employee of making false statements. After investigators were able to establish the facts, we were compelled to share the disappointing truth in our wish to be transparent with the public. I will not tolerate any willful misconduct by any one of our employees. Deputy Angel Reinosa’s actions violated the public’s trust. Every day, the men and women of this department work hard around the clock to ensure the public’s safety. I do not want the actions of one individual to tarnish our tradition of service. Like any subject of an internal investigation, Deputy Reinosa is entitled to due process. I will not tolerate anyone who willfully violates their oath of office, makes a false police report, wastes valuable public safety resources, and causes fear in the community. Those who choose to violate the public’s trust will face at minimum termination and a potential criminal prosecution.”
Lancaster’s mayor Parris echoed those sentiments.
“We are all shocked to learn that this past week’s deputy shooting incident at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station was fabricated. We are grateful there is not a sniper in our community targeting our deputies or anyone else.
We are certainly concerned about the upheaval caused to those involved. We hope the young deputy gets the appropriate help he needs and realizes that crying wolf is not okay. Severe consequences can result. And, while we are aware that false claims can happen, until we know for certain, we will respond with the appropriate resources until we know the community is safe.
We will always act to protect our city, and our local emergency responders did just that.
I want to commend our Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department – Lancaster Station for not only responding quickly to the perceived threat but also owning the discovery that the story was a fabrication without any delay. I know they are doing everything in their power to resolve this issue and prevent future occurrences.”
CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Greg Mills spoke to residents of the apartment building that was evacuated and searched amid concerns that the gunman was inside.
“My family had to be out and stay at my mom’s house, because they weren’t letting anyone in or out,” says Jonte Williams, “My wife had to miss work.”