A 54-year-old bystander was killed by an L.A County Sheriff's Department deputy in a chaotic shootout with a parolee over the weekend, authorities said.
Paramedics at the scene of the Pico Rivera standoff could not revive the victim, identified as Frank Mendoza, according to the department. He was described in reports as a man three months away from retirement.
It started with a search in the area for wanted parolee Cedric Ramirez, 24, cops said:
Deputies accompanied a county probation officer to a Pico Rivera residence in the 9000 block of Reichling Avenue Friday about 5 p.m., the sheriff's department said.
They were looking for Ramirez, who had two felony warrants on his head for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm and for allegedly taking a car without consent, deputies said.
Cops say the suspect fled when they arrived, jumping into the backyard of a neighbor in the 9000 block Rosehedge Drive. That neighbor turned out to be Mendoza.
Ramirez opened fire on the officers, and they returned fire, the sheriff's department said in a statement:
Ramirez then broke into the victims’ home through a window and, in an attempt by the deputies to get the residents out of the home, a second exchange of gunfire occurred and the male victim was hit by gunfire. The deputies rescued the 54-year old victim who was slumped over in the doorway, but he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mendoza was dead.
Sheriff's detectives Chief William McSweeney said Saturday that Ramirez broke into the back of the Mendoza home. Deputies began evacuating residents, including an adult and two children, through the front door, he said:
Ramirez appeared in an interior hallway and began shooting at the Deputies. The Deputies returned fire and then retreated to the front yard, seeking cover.
Within seconds of their exit, an adult male suddenly appeared in the front doorway. Believing the man was Ramirez, a deputy fired two shots at the man. The man dropped unconscious in the doorway and was subsequently recognized to be one of the residents. Preliminary information indicates those shots likely struck Mr. Frank Mendoza.
Ramirez's wife, meanwhile, reportedly hid in a bathroom. Deputies considered her to be a hostage, and they set up a SWAT operation and stood off with the suspect until 1:30 a.m., when cops entered the home and rescued the 60-year-old woman, according to the department.
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It's not clear if cops fatally shot Ramirez at that point or if he died from wounds sustained in the earlier exchanges of gunfire. In any case, the suspect was dead at the scene, cops said.
This incident was beyond tragic, and all of law enforcement grieves with the Mendoza family. We have made personal contact with the family, and have expressed our regret and sadness over these events.