2 US police officers shot dead, 1 injured in Palm Springs after responding to domestic disturbance

Armed police officers at the standoff where three officers were shot by a suspect.
Armed police officers at the standoff where three officers were shot by a suspect.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Two US police officers were killed and one injured on Saturday (Oct 8) after a shooting in Palm Springs, according to the southern California city’s police union.  

The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call in Palm Springs, California, the police said.

The shooting occurred after two officers went to a home after receiving a report from a female caller that her adult son was causing a disturbance, police chief Bryan Reyes told journalists.  “The male refused to open the door and threatened to shoot the officers through the closed doors,” Mr Reyes said.  

Approximately 10 minutes after they first responded, the two officers called for emergency reinforcement and said that shots had been fired.  

“It was a simple family disturbance and (the gunman) elected to open fire,” an emotional Mr Reyes said.  “I’m awake in a nightmare right now.”

Three officers were wounded in the gunfire and taken to a local hospital, where two of them died.  

“Today, Palm Springs lost two brave officers,” Mr Reyes said, his voice trembling. “They go out every day and put their boots on the ground for everybody in this community.  “They gave it all for you.”

Mr Reyes said the third victim was at the hospital but was “alert” and assisting investigators.  

The police chief identified the victims as officer Jose Gilbert Vega, a 35-year old veteran of the department who was due to retire in December, and officer Lesley Zerebny, a 27-year-old officer who gave birth to a child four months ago.  

The Palm Springs police chief said the area where the shooting occurred was still an active scene and the investigation had been turned over to the central homicide unit of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.  

The suspect remains at large and Mr Reyes said the police do not know his exact whereabouts, but “it’s still a fluid situation and there’s belief that he still may be in the house”.