L.A. School Police Officer Shot in Chest at El Camino High in Woodland Hills
Updated after the jump: Did the LAPD overreact to the sort-of-on-campus shooting? Plus, there's a REWARD in the mix now, and the L.A. City Council's got $75,000 on it.
Update: Kids Tweet from lockdown! Cops are "coming through class with their guns drawn." Also, Twitpic of a piss bucket inside one classroom. Really.
Update: The victim is Officer Jeffrey Stenroos. He was trying to stop the suspect from breaking into parked cars when he was shot.
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In the second school shooting at a LAUSD campus in two days, an on-duty Los Angeles School Police Department school officer was shot in the chest today at At 11:40 a.m.
The shooting occurred at the intersection of Burbank Boulevard and Platt Avenue, one of the school's adjacent corners, according to ABC7. However, the 911 call was made from inside El Camino High School at 5440 Valley Circle Boulevard, according to CBS Los Angeles.
The high school is on lockdown, and neighbors remain trapped in the investigation circle. The suspect, who's currently on the run, is described by police as white, in his 40s, long brown hair, wearing blue jeans and a bomber jacket. He used a semiautomatic handgun to shoot the officer.
KNX news radio reports that emergency responders are "doing their best to keep [the unidentified officer] healthy," and that he's in stable condition. The bullet allegedly did not penetrate him -- that's because, according to Jaime Moore, a spokesperson for the L.A. Fire Department, the police officer was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of the shooting.
El Camino High School is an upscale, suburban campus -- one of the top-performing schools in California. It has won more National Academic Decathlons than any other high school in the U.S. It hosts 3,568 students and 127 faculty members.
Platt Avenue, a major thoroughfare in the West Valley, is closed from Valley Circle (an exit off the Ventura Freeway) to Victory Boulevard.
"I've never seen a perimeter this big," says a KNX reporter from a helicopter above. Three LAPD helicopters joined news crews in the sky above El Camino.
Two male suspects are in LAPD custody for questioning; still, the search continues, as the two men may just be persons of interest.
The neighboring Hale Middle School, also top-ranked academically, is on lockdown as well. Same goes for Woodlake Elementary School and Welby Way Elementary School. By the size and scope of the LAPD response, we're guessing they'll stay that way through at least the end of the school day.
At Gardena High School yesterday, a 17-year-old student brought a gun to school in his backpack. At one point, the gun was fired, flying through the neck of a male classmate and into the head of another female student. That shooting is still under investigation today, though class is in session as usual.
Updates to follow as the case unfolds.
Tweet from a Hale Middle School mother:
According to a Los Angeles Times source, the officer "was alert and conscious and talking" after the shooting. Also, "LAPD sources said the officer was sitting in his marked patrol car when the gunman opened fire."
As of 1:30 p.m., LAPD officers were spotted speaking to an individual they had detained at North Topanga Canyon and Victory Boulevards -- and he matches the prior description of the suspect.
Update, 1:40 p.m.: Police say Officer Jeffrey Stenroos was pursuing the suspect in the Camino High parking lot after he noticed him trying to break into parked cars. He detained the man in the back of his police car. That's when the shooter fired his handgun at Stenroos' chest.
According to Police Chief Charlie Beck: "Our best info is that the officer stumble -- made it back to his car, at which time a good Samaritan, a local resident" used the officer's dispatch radio to call for help.
An offical for the Northridge Hospital says the bullet "bounced off the chest and bruised his chest. He also suffered a fall, and suffered minor injuries to his head and back. ... We anticipate he may be discharged later this afternoon."
The schools currently on lockdown:
El Camino Real High School
Hale Middle School
Calabash Elementary School
Lockhurst Elementary School
Pomelo Elementary School
Haynes Elementary School
Woodlake Elementary School
Welby Way Elementary School
Miguel Leonis Continuation School
Parents can call (818) 654-3600 for information.
And of course, there are all those Woodland Hills residents who can't get home because of the blocked-off crime/search scene. Case in point, Patricia Tallman:
Outside the schools, combing the seven-square-miles Woodland Hills area in full force, are over 350 LAPD officers, sheriff's deputies, CHP officers and LAUSD police. Damn.
Update, 3 p.m.: Student Hayley Erin says she's getting restless, then that police officers are actually searching classrooms with their guns drawn:
Parents are saying their kids aren't allowed to leave their classrooms for food, bathroom breaks or even some fresh air. Word on Twitter is that one girl even had to pee in a bucket.
Calabash Elementary School, Lockhurst Elementary School, Pomelo Elementary School and Haynes Elementary School are no longer under lockdown. Still no word from LAPD concerning the status of the shooting suspect or when the remaining kids will be allowed to leave.
Latest from the Times:
Ken Taylor, who owns a photo studio on Ostronic Drive, said he and his employees tried to leave the area after they heard about the shooting at El Camino Real High School but were stopped by police searching for the gunman who shot a Los Angeles Unified School District police officer.
"The police stop every car," Taylor said. "When cars stop, they're opening their trunks. They just want to make sure the suspect doesn't get out."
Another El Camino mother says to the Times, "My daughter told me her teacher said to make a circle around a girl who had to pee into a trash can."
Update, 3:30 p.m.: And here we have a photo of said trash can. Ah, the joys of Twitter. Kayla says her cousin sent it to her:
Kayla via Plixi
Update, 4:45 p.m.: Though reports are starting to come through that most, if not all, lockdowns have been lifted, one mom Tweets differently. Via Gabrielle Birchak:
And of course, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released a "shocked and saddened" response from what seems like his biweekly jet set to Washington, D.C.:
"I am shocked and saddened by the news that a Los Angeles Unified School District police officer has been shot in close proximity to El Camino High School. Two shootings in as many days on or near two separate L.A. Unified campuses is cause for grave concern and a re-examination of our school and campus perimeter security policies. My thoughts and prayers are with the wounded officer, the officer's family and colleagues."
How about all those kids on lockdown, peeing in trashcans and such? Don't they get a shout-out?
Update, 6:45 p.m.: All the kids have finally been released. However, the scene became a total clusterfuck this evening, as parents in cars in the dark tried to locate their respective offspring while sitting in a traffic jam. The wily suspect is still on the loose, and many officers still on the job.
So how 'bout a heartwarming no-place-like-home story from the Times to tie up all messy loose ends of this all-day ordeal?
[Maria Gomez'] daughter Alisa, 16, said she spent the day in her chemistry class watching an Indiana Jones movie with the other students. "I feel like I've been there two days," she said.
She wasn't planning on returning too soon. "I'm not going back to school tomorrow," she said.
As Gomez ushered her children into the family SUV, they were all looking forward to enjoying a barbecued rib dinner.
Originally posted at 12:30 p.m.
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