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Gang Control Officer Shot : Violence: A group of men fire on unmarked patrol car in South L.A. One assailant is killed and a man in the vehicle is wounded. Police call the attack an ambush.

September 29, 1993|JEAN MERL and NIESON HIMMEL | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A group of young men opened fire on two anti-gang officers in South Los Angeles on Tuesday night, seriously wounding one of the policemen and a man officers had been taking to the Newton station, police said. One of the suspects was shot to death.

The officers, assigned to the Community Resources Against Street Gangs and Hoodlums (CRASH) unit, were driving near 53rd and Main streets shortly after 6:30 p.m. when five or six young men who had been walking down the street opened fire on their unmarked patrol car, said Don Cox, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.

One, or possibly both, officers returned fire, killing one of the attackers, whose body was found on 53rd Street, police said. The other assailants--at least some of whom the officers recognized as gang members--escaped. Several hours later, police arrested six men found hiding in the neighborhood and recovered two weapons, 9-millimeter and .38-caliber handguns.

Cox called the attack "a definite ambush."

The officer who was not wounded drove his partner and their passenger to a nearby fire station for first aid. The injured men, neither of whom was immediately identified, then were taken to County-USC Medical Center, where they remained in serious condition late Tuesday.

The officer, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, was struck twice in the left leg and once in the left shoulder. No details were available on the passenger's wounds.

Cox said there have been two other recent attempts to ambush officers in the gang-troubled neighborhood, including an incident that resulted in minor injury to an officer.

Police later released a facsimile message the department received at its Parker Center headquarters warning that white police officers would be killed as long as Sgt. Stacey C. Koon and Officer Laurence M. Powell, convicted in the beating of motorist Rodney G. King, remained out of prison.

But Cox stressed that there is "nothing to indicate a connection" between the threat from an unknown source and the attack Tuesday. Police did not release the race of the gang officers who were attacked.

Nor was there a known connection between the man the officers had taken into custody before the shooting and the people who attacked them, Cox said.

A wide area of the neighborhood was closed off while about 75 officers and six police dogs searched for the attackers. Families gathered on street corners to watch as patrol cars streamed into the area and a police helicopter searched from above.

Times staff writer Teresa Ann Willis contributed to this story.

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