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Fugitive wanted in deputy shooting is arrested in Mexico

July 18, 2009 |  8:43 pm

A South Whittier gang member whose alleged attack on two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies nine years ago earned him a spot on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list has been captured, authorities disclosed Saturday.

Emigdio Preciado Jr., 39, was apprehended Friday night in Mexico by Mexican police and FBI agents, an FBI spokeswoman said.

Preciado, also known as "Trigger" and "Snyper," is accused of shooting deputies Michael Schaap and David Timberlake on Sept. 5, 2000.

The deputies were on patrol when they pulled over a 1979 Chevrolet van for having faulty headlights. When the van stopped on Gunn Avenue just north of Mulberry Drive, in an unincorporated area between Whittier and La Mirada about 3:18 a.m., Preciado allegedly fired a burst of 21 shots from an automatic weapon through the van door.

One bullet shattered the patrol car windshield, striking Schaap, then 35, in the head. The nine-year sheriff’s department veteran was critically wounded.

Timberlake, then 31, was not injured. Nearby residents said they heard him pleading, "Talk to me! Don’t die on me. . . Don’t die on me! Wake up!" as he aided his wounded partner.

The van sped away and was found abandoned about a mile away on Valley View Avenue. Three other occupants of the van were later captured -- two in South Whittier and one in Mexico.

Schaap, who recovered from his injury and returned to duty, was angered when videotape surfaced of a smiling Preciado dancing at a town’s holiday festival in Tepuzhuacan, Mexico, three months after the shooting.

"I just want my day of justice when Emigdio Preciado is sentenced to life behind bars," Schaap said two years ago when Preciado was named one of the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitives.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had offered a $50,000 reward for Preciado’s capture and the FBI had approved a $100,000 reward.

FBI officials said the two deputies will be present Monday morning in Westwood when agents and sheriff’s deputies announce details of Preciado’s capture.

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