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LAPD's massive 'BatCat' used to protect officers in Sylmar standoff

April 5, 2011 |  8:59 am

The Batcat prepares to move in to assist in driving out the suspect.

Investigators on Tuesday were sifting through the scene of a nearly 24-hour standoff in Sylmar between police and a gunman who shot an officer in the face.

Much of Monday's damage to the house in the 13600 block of Dronfield Avenue was caused by the Los Angeles Police Department's latest tool, the "BatCat," a 39,000-pound remote-controlled vehicle that looks like a forklift truck on steroids with a massive telescopic arm.

PHOTOS: Shootout in Sylmar

The BatCat -- formally called the Bomb Assault Tactical Control Assessment Tool -- is part of a new generation of unmanned ground vehicles that operate much like the U.S. Air Force's Predator drones.

It was built on the base of a massive piece of Caterpillar construction equipment known as Telehandler.

The shiny black BatCat can be remotely driven at up to 6 mph. Its massive arm can extend 50 feet horizontally or vertically and can be equipped with a claw, forklift or bucket.

The vehicle, along with a trailer and other accessories, cost the LAPD nearly $1 million. It can tear apart a home in minutes without putting an officer in danger.

The BatCat broke down walls in the Sylmar home, where Sergio O. Salazar was found dead Monday night, a rifle resting near his body. LAPD Officer Steven Jenkins was hospitalized in critical and stable condition following the violence.

Officers used the BatCat to avoid a situation like the one in February 2008 when SWAT Officer Randall Simmons was killed and another officer critically wounded by a gunman who had barricaded himself inside a Reseda home, an LAPD official said.

Although an LAPD report showed that officers acted appropriately in that incident, a department official noted that Simmons was shot after storming through a narrow entryway.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said the BatCat was effective in the Sylmar standoff and if they had do it again police would use it the same way to get the gunman.


Man suspected of shooting LAPD officer is found dead with rifle at his side

-- Richard Winton

Photo: The BatCat prepares to move in to assist in driving out the suspect. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times