Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Second helicopter sniper suspect may be holed up in San Fernando Valley building [Updated]

April 24, 2011 |  1:32 pm

Officers have fired tear gas into an apartment building where they believe a second shooter may be holed up after shots were fired at a police helicopter Sunday morning.

The events began when police received a call of shots fired about 6 a.m. near Densmore Avenue and Saticoy Street in Van Nuys, said LAPD spokesman Sgt. Gus Villanueva. A helicopter responded along with patrol units, and the suspect began shooting at the aircraft, which was forced to make an emergency landing at Van Nuys Airport, Villanueva said. 

The suspected gunman was subdued by members of his family, who tackled him, according to Villanueva, who said a rifle was recovered at the scene.

A second suspected gunman was believed to be in a nearby apartment building, where a SWAT team began firing tear gas at about 12:25 p.m.

[Updated, 1:25 p.m.: Several apartment buildings were evacuated, and some residents were waiting in a nearby school auditorium. Portions of Densmore and Saticoy could remain closed for several hours as authorities work to apprehend the suspect. It was not known if the two suspects knew each other.

"Anyone that resides in the area, we suggest they stay out," Villanueva said.

Resident Irene Garcia, 43, was sleeping when she awoke to the sound of gunfire. She and her family had planned to attend church and then celebrate the Easter holiday at her sister's home. Instead, Garcia had to evacuate her apartment building along with her husband, daughter and 20-month-old grandson.

"We're waiting to see if we can go back to get his Easter basket and clothes," Garcia said as she stood outside in the chilly air.]

-- Corina Knoll

Photo: LAPD officers fire tear gas into an apartment unit as they search for a second suspect after a gunman with a high-powered rifle shot a police helicopter, forcing it to make a successful emergency landing earlier Sunday, police say. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For the Los Angeles Times