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Shooter ambushes two LAPD officers at Wilshire station

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith (21690)
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Two police detectives were shot and slightly wounded today in a brazen ambush outside the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Station, prompting the closure of a 25-square-block area in the Mid-City section of Los Angeles amid a massive manhunt for the shooter.

As thousands of commuters coped with the impacts of the closures, thousands of Mid-City residents turned into virtual prisoners for a time, with police telling people living within the search perimeter “to shelter in place” until the perimeter is lifted.

The gunfire broke out in the 4900 block of Venice Boulevard near La Brea Avenue around 4:40 a.m., said Los Angeles police Officer Bruce Borihanh.

“The officers were returning to the station when somebody opened fire on them right outside the police station,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, an LAPD spokesman, describing them as detectives working undercover on a burglary task force. He said they shot back, but it’s not known if the gunman was hit.

The suspect was described only as a Black man of about 30-35 who was dressed all in black, wore a hat and carried a handgun.

The first exchanges heard on police radios described the shooting as an ambush, and Smith later called that an accurate characterization. He said the gunman opened fire on the detectives from behind as both were in an unmarked car and one was swiping an entry card so they could drive onto station grounds.

The detectives were taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for treatment of “minor” wounds and released, Smith said. One suffered a head wound and the other, a hand wound, he said.

“Our officers are going to be OK,” Smith said.

The detectives later returned to the police command post to assist in identifying possible suspects, Smith said.

Outside the station sat a white sedan with bullet holes — the targeted officers’ — and a suspect, one of three picked up in the area for questioning, sat in the back of a police cruiser, but there was no indication that he was linked to the station shooting, and no arrests linked to the attack were immediately announced.

A number of street closures were ordered after the shooting, including Venice between La Brea Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard. A perimeter was established to facilitate a large-scale search — 25 square blocks, Smith said.

Traffic was diverted away from the area, and residents were urged to “shelter in place.”

In response to the shooting, the LAPD was placed on a citywide tactical alert, which lets commanders hold officers over at the end of their shifts to allow for maximum deployment. The alert was downgraded after a couple of hours to include only the West Bureau stations.

About 200 officers were sent to the area, Smith said. And although this morning’s shooting was regarded as a random act, the LAPD’s other 19 stations were told to be on “heightened alert,” he said.