Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Father: Suspect in Officers' Slaying Wanted to Shoot Police

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Father: Suspect in Officers' Slaying Wanted to Shoot Police

Article excerpt

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. * In the minutes before three Palm Springs officers were shot, two fatally, the suspected gunman's father told a neighbor his son was armed, "acting crazy" and wanted to shoot police.

John Felix, 26, was apprehended early Sunday after a lengthy standoff and will be charged this week with murder.

Police said Felix emerged wearing soft body armor and carrying ammunition but no weapon after police shot a chemical agent into the home where he had holed up.

A neighbor, Frances Serrano, said the suspect's panicked father, Santos Felix, had said earlier that his son, an admitted gang member, had a gun.

"My son is inside and we're scared, he's acting crazy," Serrano said the older Felix had told her. When it was suggested that they call the police, he said, "Yeah, he already knows they are coming, and he is going to shoot them."

Serrano said she went back inside her house and within minutes police cars arrived and gunfire erupted.

Police said John Felix suddenly pulled out a gun and opened fire on the officers who had responded to a family disturbance call Saturday afternoon at the home he shared with his parents in a quiet neighborhood of single-story ranch homes in this desert resort city.

Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes identified the slain officers as Jose "Gil" Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny.

Zerebny, 27, had been with the department for about 18 months and had recently returned early from maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter. Vega, a married father of eight, was a 35-year veteran who planned to retire in December. He had been working overtime Saturday on his scheduled day off.

The wounded officer's name was not released, but Reyes said he was alert, speaking with investigators and had been expected to be released from a hospital later Sunday.

Police arrested John Felix after shooting him with nonlethal rounds when he finally exited through the back door, unarmed but wearing body armor and carrying ammo. SWAT officers using bullhorns had tried through the night to establish contact with him, but got no response. …

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