The booking photo of suspect John Hernandez Felix, 26

Two Palm Springs, Calif., police officers were killed and one was injured Saturday by a lone gunman wearing body armor and equipped with high-capacity magazine, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The officers who were killed have been identified as Officer Jose “Gil” Vega, a 35-year veteran of the Palm Springs Police Department who was due to retire in December, and Officer Lesley Zerebny, who had been with the department for one-and-a-half years and had just returned to work after maternity leave.


Vega and Zerebny were the first officers from the Palm Springs department to be killed in the line of duty since 1962.

The suspected gunman, 26-year-old John Felix, was taken into custody after a 12-hour standoff with law enforcement. SWAT officers tried unsuccessfully to make contact with him while he was holed up in his family home, but got no response.

After unsuccessfully using remote-controlled robots to try to pinpoint his location in the home, the police deployed chemical agents in the residence.

“Almost immediately … the suspect emerged out the back door,” said Riverside County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ray Wood. "When he emerged, he was wearing soft body armor and he had a number of high-capacity magazines on his person."  


Felix was unarmed and surrendered peacefully at 1 a.m. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries, which were not life-threatening.

Felix has a history of violence and was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in 2009. The officers were responding to a family disturbance when Felix opened fire.


Frances Serrano, a neighbor of Felix, said that Felix’s father came out of the home earlier Saturday afternoon asking for help.

“He said, ‘Help. I need help. My son is in the house, and he’s crazy. He has a gun. He’s ready to shoot all the police,’” Serrano recalled the father saying.


Serrano said she called police and heard gunshots as she was walking back into her house.

Felix is expected to be charged with two counts of murder of a peace officer. The investigation into the shooting has been turned over to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.


Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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