For the first time in over 50 years, the police department in Palm Springs, California, is mourning the loss of officers killed in the line of duty. Three officers were shot answering a domestic disturbance call on Saturday, two of them dying due to their wounds.
The deceased are 35-year veteran Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega who was due to retire in less than a year, and Lesley Zerebny who was with the force only a year and half and gave birth to a daughter only four months earlier. The third officer is alert and responsive.
(Via USA Today) “Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers,” Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes said at a news conference, his voice shaking with emotion. “I am awake in a nightmare right now.”
Shortly after noon, dozens of police descended on a Palm Springs residence in response to a call for help from the scene. According to reports, the suspect in the case simply opened fire.
“It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire,” Reyes said….
Witnesses said they heard between 10 and 20 gunshots from what sounded like machine guns. Over a dozen patrol cars, three fire engines and a SWAT truck were at the scene of the incident at 2 p.m.
Officers searched the surrounding area while residents of Palm Springs laid flowers in a make-shift memorial at the police station. Fellow officers did try to revive Zerebny to no avail.
One person at the scene indicated that the story is not nearly as cut and dried as the suspect just opening fire.
Frances Serrano, who lives directly across the street from where the shooting took place, spoke to the father of the suspected shooter moments before the incident. The father told Serrano that his son, who has mental issues, had a gun and wanted to shoot police officers.
“He came over and asked for help,” she said.
That call ended in police pointing rifles at the house of the suspect’s father, the death of two of Palm Springs finest, and a day that the mayor of Palm Springs called the worst of his life.