YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Officer Shoots Man During Car Theft at High School


WOODLAND HILLS — A school police officer Wednesday shot and wounded a man who tried to drive over the officer while helping an accomplice steal a car from a parking lot at El Camino Real High School, school authorities said.

"It is extremely rare" for school police officers to shoot anyone, said Shel Erlich, a school district spokesman, but Erlich had no record of how many such shootings there have been.

The shooting occurred about 10:40 a.m. when Los Angeles Unified School District Police Officer Aaron Mengazzi, responding to a report of a possible car theft, spotted two men in the school parking lot, Erlich said. One of the men was behind the wheel of a burgundy Oldsmobile and the other was inside a student's car, Erlich said.

When the man in the Oldsmobile saw Mengazzi, he drove straight toward him, accelerating as he approached, Erlich said. Mengazzi dodged the vehicle and fired one shot, which struck the driver in the thigh, Erlich said.

Mengazzi arrested Leon Blunt, 36, of Los Angeles when he crashed into a barrier as he tried to escape, Erlich said.

The other man, who had succeeded in starting the student's car, roared out of the parking lot in the vehicle, authorities said.

Mengazzi radioed Los Angeles police in the vicinity to watch for the stolen car. It was sighted less than half an hour later by a patrol unit on Winnetka Avenue just north of the Ventura Freeway overpass, authorities said.

The driver ran, but officers chased him across the Ventura Freeway and arrested Derrick Johnson, 28, of Pacoima, authorities said.

Blunt was treated at West Hills Regional Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his right thigh. He was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. His bail will be set at $50,000, authorities said.

Johnson was booked on suspicion of grand theft auto and held on $20,000 bail, authorities said.

School district police will investigate the shooting at the campus and detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department will handle the car theft, authorities said.

The last shooting on a district campus by a school police officer occurred Jan. 17, about three hours before the Northridge earthquake, when an officer shot a suspected burglar at Mt. Vernon Middle School near Downtown Los Angeles, Erlich said.

Los Angeles Times Articles