LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A deputy’s claims that he was ambushed and injured by a sniper last week have been busted, as officials are now saying that he made up the entire story.
A massive manhunt was organized to hunt down a suspect who was reportedly armed with a high powered rifle and attacking police officers after an LA county deputy claimed he was shot at.
Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon confirmed at a news conference late Saturday that Wednesday’s “reported sniper assault was fabricated” by Angel Reinosa, a 21-year-old deputy.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) August 25, 2019
Deputy Reinosa had originally made the claim that he was shot from an elevated position while on duty on August 21.
Shortly after, police said Deputy Reinosa, 21, had suffered a “graze wound” to the shoulder while walking to his car at the department’s lot.
His call came in over emergency radios.
“I have taken shots from the north of the Lancaster helipad,” the deputy is heard saying over the radio. “I think I’m hit in the right shoulder.”
According to Reinosa’s original story, he was hit with a high-velocity rifle round and said two shots had been fired at him from a nearby four-story apartment building. He claimed that he was able to scramble back to the station and get medical help.
“He is doing great, thankfully,” Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Weber said before the truth came out. “The wound was minor and he’s been treated and he’s doing well, in high spirits.”
But after a massive manhunt to find the alleged gunman and an investigation into the actual shooting, Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener says the report was all fabricated. Officials were unable to find any bullets from the scene and after closer investigation it appeared that the “wounded” deputy actually had no injuries.
“There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injuries sustained to his shoulder. Completely fabricated,” Wegener said.
Officials from the sheriff’s office said that the rookie deputy eventually caved and admitted that he had made up the story and then used a knife to cut the two holes in his shirt.
Press Conference – LASD Asst. Sheriff Limon will provide updates regarding Lancaster Station shooting investigation
Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Saturday, August 24, 2019
Reinosa has since been relieved of his duties, Wegener said, and he will be facing a criminal investigation following the false claims. As of this time, Reinosa had not released a motive behind his actions.
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Following the initial claims, Mayor R. Rex Parris released a statement condemning the alleged gunman’s actions.
“He was walking out of the sheriff’s station, and a sniper took a shot at him,” Parris said. “It is incomprehensible in our city.”
After the radio call, police immediately began searching for their injured brother’s attacker.
Deputies blocked off the area where they believed the shot came from, saying it was a “considerable distance”. They did not say how many shots were fired. They believed they had the shooter contained, but he was able to escape.
While searching the area, the SWAT team was called in and armored vehicles were brought in to provide cover for deputies using binoculars to scan the building for the sniper.
They spent several hours clearing nearby buildings, including a library and an apartment complex.
“There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injuries sustained to his shoulder. Completely fabricated,” LASD Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said. https://t.co/Bk9bsyl7el
— KTLA (@KTLA) August 25, 2019
At a news conference Wednesday night, Weber said Reinosa has been with the Sheriff’s Department for a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training.
Believing the shots may have been fired from a nearby apartment building, the department evacuated hundreds of residents as deputies went floor-to-floor to search for the shooter.
Late on Wednesday evening, police arrested two people. But they later say the individuals had just been uncooperative with the search and evacuation orders, and were not considered suspects.
It was discovered shortly after that Reinosa had fabricated the story and that the entire manhunt had been a farce.
Undersheriff Robin Limon said Reinosa has tarnished the reputation of the department with his story.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Limon said. “We expect our deputy sheriff’s are held to a higher standard, and unfortunately, in this case, he did not act to that standard.”
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