Two Palm Springs police officers were killed, a third is wounded but alert after a shooting in that city on Saturday. The shooting began when police responded to a reported family disturbance.
The officers who died are Jose Gilbert Vega, a 35-year veteran set to retire in December, and Lesley Zerebny, 27, who was a brand new mother of a four-month-old baby, according to Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes. Zerebny had just come back to work after giving birth in early summer.
According to the Desert Sun, moments before gunfire erupted from the home of the suspect, the alleged shooter in the killing of the two officers reportedly told his father he wanted to kill cops.
The suspect was at large after the shooting for more than 12 hours. Finally, after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Riverside Sheriff’s Department announced that the suspect had been taken into custody.
Here’s a clip from Saturday night’s story by the Desert Sun about how the incident began:
Frances Serrano, who lives directly across the street from where the shooting took place Saturday, spoke to the father of the suspected gunman moments before the bloodshed. The father told Serrano that his son had a gun and wanted to shoot police officers.
“He came over and asked for help,” she said.
Serrano called the police and the father walked back toward his house. Soon after, Serrano heard gunshots.
Other witnesses described what they heard as heavy and sustained gunfire.
Into Saturday night, dozens of law enforcement officers searched for the shooter in the area of Cypress and Del Lago roads in Palm Springs.
At his news conference late Saturday afternoon, Chief Reyes expressed what most officers seemed to be feeling. “I am awake in a nightmare right now,” he said.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has taken over the case.
At WitnessLA, our hearts go out to the families of the three officers, their friends, and their colleagues. This much tragedy and loss to the law enforcement community, and to the Southern California community as a whole, feels unbearable.
The LA Times has a good team on the story, which they have continued to update throughout the afternoon into Saturday night. Check out their coverage here.