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Crime

Steve Jenkins, LAPD Officer on Night Duty in Sylmar, Shot in Face by Alleged Wife Beater; Neighbor Evacuation, SWAT Standoff Ensue

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Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 2:28 PM

click to enlarge Officer Steve Jenkins' unit - LAPDK9
  • LAPDK9
  • Officer Steve Jenkins' unit
Updated after the jump: The suspect (identified as Guatemala native Sergio Salazar) overcomes tear gas, hot gas and the claws of a construction crane to maintain his stubborn barricade against the LAPD SWAT team.

A gated community in the mountainside Valley neighborhood of Sylmar got little sleep last night, after a Latino male resident in his 50s allegedly beat his wife before shooting LAPD responder Steve Jenkins in the face -- and the suspect is still standing off with a SWAT team as of 7:30 a.m.

Jenkins is in critical condition at Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills. Meanwhile, the rest of the gated community residents have been evacuated, and the suspect remains "barricaded" in his home.

It all began with a 911 call at 10:30 p.m. from his wife, who ran to a neighbor's house after the alleged domestic dispute.

According to ABC7, other residents also reported "the suspect running up and down the street looking for his wife."

From the Los Angeles Times:

The shooting took place about 2:45 a.m. when officers were approaching the home in the 13600 block of [Dronfield] Avenue and were shot at from someone inside the house. ...

Police said they did not know if the suspect had additional weapons other than the gun that was allegedly used to shoot the officer. It was also not clear if the suspect was wounded. No one else was believed to be in the residence.

click to enlarge Steve Jenkins - LOS ANGELES TIMES
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Steve Jenkins
Jenkins has been with the department 22 years, and works as a K9 handler in the metropolitan division. His wife and son are also on the force.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck held a news conference at the hospital this morning -- attended by Jenkins' family and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- to announce that Jenkins is in critical, "very guarded" condition.

Beck says the LAPD hero was hit in both the jaw and the shoulder, and that one bullet made its way into his chest cavity.

Residents have been evacuated to nearby Sylmar High School.

Update, 11:05 a.m.: SWAT officers just entered the suspect's home after pumping in tear gas and hot gas. There was a shootout, but no officers were hit. Somehow, though, the man still on the loose -- perhaps running on adrenaline, says ABC7. Jenkins is "critically ill but stable," with two chest tubes and a breathing machine.

Update, 2:30 p.m.: In its mission to reveal the suspect's whereabouts, a construction crane has ripped apart the entire second floor (and part of the first floor) of his house.

Although LAPD media relations sent out a stern statement telling press: "Please don't show any live feed of the suspect's house from the helicopter," the scene is too spectacular to resist. Via NBC LA:

click to enlarge NBC LOS ANGELES
  • NBC Los Angeles
But still -- miraculously, 12 hours later -- the alleged wife beater evades arrest. Stay tuned.

Update, 6 p.m.: Though the house has been almost completely knocked down by a "hydraulic forklift," the suspect is still nowhere to be found.

WTF.

Update, 9 p.m.: After an exhaustive day of manhunting, the wrecking machine -- now identified by the LAPD as the "Bad Cat" -- detected the suspect with one of its cameras.

(Yes, one of its cameras. At an evening press conference, LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese explained the "Bad Cat" as a forklift/crane, with a remote control and mounted cameras, that can be used as a sort of battering ram. And can pick up cars to move them out of the way. The future has officially arrived.)

Anyway, here's what the "Bad Cat" saw: Sergio Salazar was dead from multiple gunshot wounds, and possibly had been ever since the afternoon shootout with officers. He had his rifle by his side.

Originally posted at 8 a.m.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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