Gunman in barricaded Sylmar home is identified
An armed man who shot an LAPD officer and remained at the center of a tense standoff with police in Sylmar was identified Monday as Sergio O. Salazar, sources confirmed.
Salazar, 53, is listed as co-owner of a home at 13652 1/2 Dronfield Avenue in the area cordoned off by police more than 12 hours ago. Salazar allegedly shot LAPD Officer Steven Jenkins in the face early Monday as police responded to a domestic violence call.
Jenkins, a 22-year veteran, was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery and was recovering in critical but stable condition.
Salazar was described by a woman who knew him as a native of Guatemala who liked guns and whose temper could flare. The woman, who asked not to be identified because she fears for her safety, said that when she knew him, "He used to carry a .357 under the seat of his car."
The woman said he had a close family, including a mother and two sisters who adored him.
"He was the king of the family,'' she said.
The standoff began about 10:30 p.m. Sunday when police received a report of domestic violence in the 16300 block of Dronfield Avenue. Responding firefighters treated a woman with cuts and bruises at a neighbor's house.
Officers arrived at Salazar's home and tried to contact him about 2:45 a.m. When he didn't respond, a team of canine handlers approached the home, and Salazar allegedly fired on them, striking Jenkins in the face and shoulder.
About 6 a.m., the suspect communicated by text with relatives, said LAPD spokesman Andy Neiman. Ccontact ended after that, he said. Negotiators repeatedly tried to call Salazar on his cellphone and home phone, to no avail.
The neighborhood of middle-class ranch properties and Salazar's newer, gated community was evacuated by 7 a.m. During the long standoff in the morning, police fired regular tear-gas canisters and then lobbed a more intense chemical called "hot gas" into the home.
Salazar could be seen moving around in the home, and he fired repeatedly on officers over a 45-minute to one-hour period ending at 10:30 a.m. Police had not seen him since, Neiman said.
About noon, special weapons and tactics units brought in a giant forklift-like machine and broke down part of the back wall of the house to better expose the shooter.
The forklift-like device, called a Bad Cat, not only broke down wall in several places upstairs and downstairs but was used to remove furniture and clear the area.
The Bad Cat has a telescoping arm equipped with video capability to monitor inside the house remotely.
"The idea is to make it as wide open as we can so they can see him either down or not," Neiman said. "Whether he's hiding out playing possum or waiting for us to come in ... we just don't know."
SWAT units prepared to wait Salazar out, if necessary.
"We're trying to do this as safely as possible for all our officers' sake, for the surrounding community and even for the suspect,'' Neiman said.
-- Gale Holland in Sylmar and Catherine Saillant