Two Officers gunned down in California

Jack Smith, News Reporter

Officials identified John Felix, 26, as the man accused of gunning down officers Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny while they were trying to resolve a domestic dispute Saturday afternoon.

“It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire on a few of the guardians of the city,” Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes, his voice breaking, told reporters.  “Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers … I am awake in a nightmare right now.”

Officials said during a Sunday afternoon press conference that Felix was wearing body armor and had several magazines of ammunition on him when he was arrested. Though no determination has been made yet, prosecutors said Felix would be eligible for the death penalty. He is set to be arraigned either Wednesday or Thursday.

Police said Zerebny recently returned to the force from maternity leave after giving birth to a now 4 month-old daughter. Vega, the father of eight, was a 35-year veteran who planned to retire in December and had been working overtime on his day off Saturday. Reyes said the wounded officer is alert and talking with investigators.

Riverside County SWAT officers quickly sealed off the normally quiet residential neighborhood in this desert resort town as police evacuated some residents. They told others to stay inside their homes and keep their doors locked.

A neighbor, Frances Serrano, told reporters she called authorities after the father of the shooting suspect came to her house across the street and told her his son was “acting crazy.”

As the lockdown continued, scores of police officers gathered at Palm Springs Desert Regional Medical Center to offer a somber salute as the bodies of Zerebny and Vega were loaded into white hearses for transport to a coroner’s office.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email