Two police officers were killed and one was injured after being shot in Palm Springs, California on Saturday while responding to a ‘family disturbance.’
The shooting took place near Sunrise Way and Racquet Club Road in the luxury desert town as officers were responding to a ‘family disturbance’ around 2pm, Sgt. Hutchinson of Palm Springs Police Department said.
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes tearfully identified the two deceased officers as Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega and Lesley Zerebny during an afternoon press conference.
‘This is extremely difficult for me,’ Reyes said as his voice was breaking. ‘Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers. They go out every day and put their boots on the ground for everybody in this community, they gave it all for you.’
Reyes emotionally said that Vega, a 63-year-old father to eight children, was a 35-year veteran of the police department who was set to retire in December.
He added that Vega was not originally scheduled to work on Saturday, but picked up the shift to work overtime.
Zerebny, 27, was a rookie who had only worked on the police force for about a year and a half, Reyes said as his voice cracked.
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Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes identified the two officers killed in a shooting on Satruday as Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega and Lesley Zerebny (above). She was a rookie officer and a new mother
The two police officers killed in Palm Springs, California on Saturday were responding to a call about a ‘family disturbance.’ Scene pictured above
The officers were immediately rushed to a local hospital after the horrific shooting. Scene pictured above
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes (above) said Vega was a 35-year veteran of the force, while Zerebny had just returned back to duty after giving birth to a baby girl four months ago
He explained that Zerebny had just returned back to duty after giving birth to a baby girl four months ago.
Reyes said the third police officer who was shot is ‘alert and doing well’ at the local hospital.
He explained that a woman called 911 saying her son was causing a disturbance at a home on 2700 Cypress Road.
Reyes said that when officers arrived at 12:18pm, the male refused to open the door and threatened to shoot through the closed door.
The officers were trying to negotiate with the suspect to comply, but he opened fire on them.
The shooting took place near Sunrise Way and Racquet Club Road as officers were responding to a ‘family disturbance’. Scene pictured above
‘It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire on a few of the guardians of the city,’ Reyes said.
Dozens of law enforcement officers, including the SWAT team, are searching for the shooter in the area of Cypress and Del Lago roads in Palm Springs.
Reyes said it’s unclear what type of weapon the man used and that the central homicide unit of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is in charge of the investigation.
Authorities said they are dealing with an ‘active scene,’ KMIR reported.
The shooter has not been found, as his whereabouts are unknown as of 8:24pm ET. Above armed police officers at the scene
Dozens of law enforcement officers, including the SWAT team, are searching for the shooter in the area of Cypress and Del Lago roads in Palm Springs. Scene pictured above
Police are asking for residents in the area to stay indoors as they conduct the investigation.
Numerous officers in tactical gear maintained defensive positions behind a four-foot concrete wall at 3:15pm, as if the shooter were still on scene, the Desert Sun reported.
Witnesses say they heard between 10 and 20 gunshots from what sounded like machine guns, the newspaper reported.
While walking out of the emergency room where the officers had been taken, Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon said: ‘It’s probably the worst day of my life.’
Police are asking for residents in the area to stay indoors as they conduct the investigation and search for the shooter. Scene pictured above
Above police officers from various agencies are shown at their command center on Saturday in Palm Springs
Frances Serrano lives directly across the street from where the deadly incident happened and she spoke to the father of the suspected gunman not long after the shooting.
Serrano was reportedly told that the son, who allegedly has mental issues, wanted to shoot police officers and had a gun, the Desert Sun reported.
‘He came over and asked for help,’ she said.
Serrano called 911 and the man walked back towards his house and then soon after she said she heard gunshots.
‘I saw a person on the ground,’ said Gerardo Barrera, who was working near the scene. ‘Someone kept pumping her chest but she wasn’t moving.’
A law enforcement officer joins other emergency personnel in Palm Springs on Saturday
Officers watch a home on Cypress Road after gunshots where fired on Saturday
Barrera said that police arrived right away to the scene.
‘It sounded like fireworks at first,’ said Juan Garciano. ‘I came out of the house and saw police start to block the roads.’
Stage and screen star John Barrowman said the shooting took place about 200 yards from his house, as he expressed shock over the ‘terrible’ incident that took the lives of two officers.
‘There’s been a shooting in Palm Springs, two police officers have died and one is, I guess injured,’ the actor said in a video shared to Twitter while speaking in what appeared to be his back yard.
The Doctor Who actor expressed his support for the Palm Springs Police Department along with his husband Scott Gill.
Barrowman said that police helicopters were circling above his home in the area, as everything ‘is shut down’.
The shooting on Saturday comes days after a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant was shot and killed in the high desert town of Lancaster.
Sgt. Steve Owen was answering a burglary call when sheriff’s officials say he was shot and wounded by a man who then stood over him and shot him four more times.
A paroled robber has been charged with murder.
This story is developing, please check back for updates.