Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Man Held in Slayings of Two Police in Calif

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Man Held in Slayings of Two Police in Calif

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 faces charges including two counts of murder on a peace officer.

Police said Sunday that Felix emerged wearing soft body armor after police shot a chemical agent into the home where he was holed up for hours.

A neighbor, Frances Serrano, told The Associated Press that the suspect's panicked father, Santos Felix, said 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 told her. When it was suggested 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 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 in a quiet neighborhood of 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 recently returned 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.

Police arrested Felix, who was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

Reyes indicated police had had previous dealings with the suspect, but declined to elaborate.

Court records show Felix is a gang member who was previously sentenced to four years in prison in a failed murder plot in 2009. Documents cited by the Desert Sun newspaper reveal Felix was charged with attempted murder but pleaded down to assault with a firearm and admitted his gang connection.

Documents also show Felix was the subject of a forceful arrest three years ago at the same house where Saturday's shootings occurred. …

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