Miles of Woodland Hills closed off as police search for suspect in shooting near school [Updated]
As Los Angeles police scoured the neighborhoods near El Camino Real High School where an LAUSD police officer was shot Wednesday, more details were emerging about the circumstances leading up to the incident. The officer shot has been identified as Jeffrey Stenroos, an eight-year veteran of the LAUSD police force, according to LAUSD police Chief Steve Zipperman.
Sources familiar with the case said the Stenroos spotted the suspect on the east side of the high school. He appeared to be involved in some kind of illegal activity, which may have included breaking into cars, sources said. The officer confronted the suspect at Manton Avenue and Burbank Boulevard, just east of the campus.
During that confrontation, which occurred at about 11:45 a.m., the suspect fired at least one round.
"He was hit once in the chest," Zipperman said.
The officer was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, which absorbed the round and possibly saved the officer's life, law-enforcement officials said.
[Updated at 1:45 p.m.: LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said, "The suspect fired multiple rounds in the officer's direction, striking the officer once in the chest." Beck said the officer fell backwards and hit his head, but was able to stumble back to his patrol car, where a Good Samaritan assisted him with making a radio call to dispatch to report that the officer was injured.
"We have over 350 Los Angeles police officers, sheriff's deputies, Highway Patrol and school police at the scene," Beck said.]
Doctors at Northridge Hospital Medical Center said he was in stable condition having suffered bruising to his chest as well as injuries he received when he fell backward.
Based on a preliminary assessment at the scene, it did not appear that the officer returned fire, sources said.
The suspect immediately fled the scene. LAPD set up a massive perimeter that stretched for dozens of blocks -- the Ventura Freeway on the south, Woodlake Avenue to the east, Valley Circle on the west and Burbank Boulevard on the north.
Sources described the suspect as a white man in his 40s wearing blue jeans and a bomber jacket who fled the scene through an alley. He has long, brown hair. He was last seen running east on Burbank Boulevard.
Police brought in resources from across the Valley and declared a citywide tactical alert, which means that officers from the prior shift can be held over as new officers come on duty. The SWAT team, canine units, helicopters and teams from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were all deployed.
El Camino High was immediately placed on lockdown as police searched for the gunman. In addition to the high school, Miguel Leonis Continuation School, Calabash Elementary, Pomelo Elementary, Lockhurst Elementary, Haynes Elementary, Welby Way Elementary School, Woodlake Elementary School and Hale Middle School are all locked down, said Gayle Pollard-Terry, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
A lockdown typically means students and staff members are not allowed to leave or enter the campus.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton
Map: Shows location of original police perimeter in blue and the expanded perimeter in purple, with nearby schools on lockdown. Credit: Los Angeles Times