In the second police shooting in less than a month, two Los Angeles police officers were injured in Lake View Terrace early Thursday when a man fired an assault weapon at the two partners who had been called to the man's home to quell a domestic disturbance.
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Don Boon, 32, was struck in the hip, and his partner, Manuel Solis, 24, was grazed across the face by a bullet fragment, police said. After Boon was shot, Solis dragged his partner to safety behind a car, Chief Bernard C. Parks said.
The wounded officers radioed for help, drawing dozens of patrol cars and the SWAT team. About an hour later, officers arrested a man hiding in the house, in the 11900 block of Kathyann Street, where he had lived for several months, authorities said.
Police have so far not confirmed his identity.
One witness, neighbor Sylvia Franco, said the man told arresting officers: "I didn't shoot. I didn't shoot."
LAPD officers recovered an assault rifle at the scene.
Boon and Solis were responding to a 911 call from the man's wife, who said her husband was mentally ill and had a gun, police said.
The official narrative of events came from Parks: "Upon having communication with the suspect and a family member, the officers were confronted by the suspect and an officer-involved shooting occurred, in which two officers were injured."
The two officers knocked on the door about 10:30 a.m. When no one answered, the men started to walk back to their black-and-white patrol car, police said. The officers were then approached by a woman who identified herself as the 911 caller, LAPD spokesman Lt. Anthony Alba said. As Boon and Solis listened to the woman's story, the gunman opened fire.
Echoing a complaint from officers at the North Hollywood shootout, Alba and Boon and Solis were outgunned. "Even a semiautomatic weapon is far superior to (a police-issue handgun), he said. "The officers would be immediately at a disadvantage when responding to a call like this." Nonetheless, at least one of the officers fired back, which may have distracted their attacker long enough to allow the two wounded officers to scramble for cover, he said.
The move was "brave, if not lifesaving," said Alba.
Diana Martinez, a nurse at County Manor Convalescent Hospital, which is across the street from where the officers were shot, said she heard two bursts of gunfire.
Minutes later, as she stood at the hospital's gate, she saw one of the injured officers taken away in a patrol car. "His face was covered with blood," she said. "He looked like he was dead."
Both Solis and Boon were taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Sylmar.
Dr. Charles Deng, the emergency room physician who treated the injured officers, said Solis was apparently hit by bullet fragments that ricocheted during the shootout. He suffered small puncture wounds to his nose and cheek, and was treated and released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.
Boon was shot in the left hip and was expected to remain in the hospital overnight. He will undergo a CAT scan, and possibly surgery to check for internal injuries.
"Officer Boon was in a lot of pain, but he's received medication for the pain," Deng said, adding that Boon was lucid.
On his way out of the hospital, Donovan Lyons, Boon's former partner in the Foothill Division, said Boon was acting like his usual self, despite his injury.
"He's feeling fine. Don is being Don. He's inside there joking," Lyons said. "He's in good spirits. He's always been that way. You can't keep the guy down."
Lyons said the former Marine Corps. officer is "well-liked, very aggressive. . .He's got a will to survive. He's a fighter."
Jose Hernandez, 30, who is related to Solis by marriage, said Solis was in good spirits. "He's doing fine. He's doing great as a matter of fact," Hernandez said.
Solis, who was born in Mexico, is not married. "He loves his job," Hernandez said. "He was aware of the risks."
LAPD Sgt. Stephany Payne said of the two partners: "They're very lucky," and officers are grateful "we don't have have to go through another funeral."
Thursday's shooting came two weeks after LAPD Officer Steve Gajda was slain by an alleged gang member while trying to break up a raucous New Year's Eve party in Boyle Heights.
Dennis Zine, vice president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the risk of being a police officer is on the rise.
"They say that crime is decreasing, but there's a growing lack of respect for police officers out there," Zine said. "It's a frightening job at times."
In addition to the 911 call from the suspect's wife, police received a call for help from a counselor at Value Mark Pine Grove Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Canoga Park.
Diane Sharpe, chief executive of the hospital, declined to say who placed the call to the facility or even describe what was said.
"But it was a crisis response team they were calling," Sharpe said.
LAPD Cmdr. Tim McBride said investigators were examining the history of police calls to the Lake View Terrace address where the officers were shot.
"You have to look at whether this is something that could have been prevented," he said.