Man said to be ‘act­ing crazy’ be­fore shoot­ings

Sus­pect who wore body ar­mor to be charged in killings

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Robert Jablon and Christo­pher We­ber

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — In the min­utes be­fore three Palm Springs of­fi­cers were shot, two fa­tally, the sus­pected gun­man’s fa­ther told a neigh­bor his son was armed, “act­ing crazy” and wanted to shoot po­lice.

John Fe­lix, 26, was ap­pre­hended early Sun­day af­ter a stand­off and will be charged this week with mur­der.

Po­lice said Fe­lix emerged wear­ing body ar­mor and car­ry­ing am­mu­ni­tion but no weapon af­ter po­lice shot a chem­i­cal agent into the home where he had holed up.

A neigh­bor, Frances Ser­rano, said the sus­pect’s fa­ther, San­tos Fe­lix, ear­lier said his son, a gang mem­ber, had a gun.

“My son is in­side, and we’re scared. He’s act­ing crazy,” Ser­rano said the older Fe­lix told her. When it was sug­gested they call the po­lice, he said, “‘Yeah, he al­ready knows they are com­ing, and he is go­ing to shoot them.’ ”

Ser­rano said she went back in­side her house and within min­utes po­lice cars ar­rived and gun­fire erupted.

Po­lice said John Fe­lix pulled out a gun and opened fire on the of­fi­cers, who had re­sponded to a fam­ily dis­tur­bance call Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon at the home he shared with his par­ents in a neigh­bor­hood of sin­gle- story ranch homes in this desert resort city

Palm Springs po­lice Chief Bryan Reyes iden­ti­fied the slain of­fi­cers as Jose “Gil” Gil­bert Vega and Po­lice of­fi­cers of­fer sup­port to each other Sat­ur­day at Desert Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Palm Springs, Calif. Po­lice Of­fi­cers Jose “Gil” Vega, 63, and Les­ley Zerebny, 27. Les­ley Zerebny.

Zerebny, 27, had been with the de­part­ment for about 18 months and had re­cently re­turned early from ma­ter­nity leave af­ter giv­ing birth to a daugh­ter.

Vega, 63, a mar­ried fa­ther of eight, was a 35- year vet­eran who planned to re­tire in De­cem­ber. He had been work­ing over­time Sat­ur­day on his sched­uled day off.

The wounded of­fi­cer’s name was not re­leased, but Reyes said he was alert and speak­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Po­lice ar­rested Fe­lix af­ter shoot­ing him with non­lethal rounds when he ex­ited through the back door, un­armed but wear­ing body ar­mor and car­ry­ing ammo. He was taken to a hos­pi­tal for treat­ment of in­juries that did not ap­pear to be life-threat­en­ing.

Dis­trict At­tor­ney Michael Hestrin said Fe­lix would be charged Tues­day with first-de­gree mur­der and sev­eral other felony counts. Pros­e­cu­tors would de­cide within two weeks whether he could face the death penalty.

It was not known if Fe­lix had an at­tor­ney.

Reyes in­di­cated po­lice have had pre­vi­ous deal­ings with the sus­pect, but he de­clined to elab­o­rate.

Court records show Fe­lix is a gang mem­ber who was pre­vi­ously sen­tenced to four years in prison in a failed mur­der plot in 2009. Doc­u­ments cited by The Desert Sun news­pa­per re­veal he was charged with at­tempted mur­der but pleaded down to as­sault with a firearm and ad­mit­ted his gang con­nec­tion.

Doc­u­ments also show Fe­lix was the sub­ject.of a force­ful ar­rest three years ago at the same house where Sat­ur­day’s shoot­ings oc­curred. Fe­lix, 26

RO­DRIGO PENA/AP

PALM SPRINGS, CALIF., PO­LICE PHO­TOS

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