Man said to be ‘acting crazy’ before shootings
Suspect who wore body armor to be charged in killings
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