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2 Killed, LAPD Officer Wounded in Shootouts

Violence: Police scramble to respond to more than 650 reports of holiday gunfire, including a deadly battle in Studio City.


A Los Angeles police officer was severely wounded and her assailant was killed in a gun battle outside a Studio City apartment complex late Thursday, while other officers shot and killed an armed South-Central man.

The two incidents were the most serious among more than 650 reports of holiday gunfire to which LAPD officers throughout the city responded Thursday night and early Friday.

Officer Cynthia French, a 16-year veteran of the LAPD, was in serious but stable condition at County-USC Medical Center late Friday after being shot numerous times the previous evening by a man who police said was armed with an automatic rifle, a semiautomatic pistol, high-capacity magazines of ammunition and a bulletproof helmet. LAPD Cmdr. David J. Kalish said French was shot under her bulletproof vest.

Kalish said the gunman fired through an apartment door and aggressively pursued French and her partner.

The wounded officer suffered injuries to her lungs and liver.

"She is a long way from being out of the woods, and we are asking people to say a prayer for her," Kalish said.

The LAPD reports said the wounded officer's assailant, described only as a 32-year-old Caucasian, was killed when French and other officers returned fire.

French and her partner were responding to a report of a man with a gun at an apartment building in the 10000 block of Bluffside Drive in Studio City. Police later said the gunman opened fire on the officers from an apartment, then left the building and advanced on the officers as he continued shooting.

After French was shot, the 40-year-old officer was dragged to safety and carried to an ambulance. Police said her assailant continued to fire at other officers until he was killed near the entrance of the apartment complex's parking garage.

Kalish said French's fellow officers "demonstrated incredible bravery in the face of hellacious gunfire rescuing the officer and engaging this heavily armed suspect."

Neighbors said they saw the gunman walking back and forth in the parking lot holding a rifle.

One bystander said the man's demeanor reminded him of the gunmen in the 1997 North Hollywood Bank of America robbery. Clad in body armor and armed with automatic weapons, two men in that incident shot it out with dozens of police officers until they were killed.

Commenting on the scene in Studio City on Thursday night, Aleksander Teodorovic, a documentary filmmaker who lives nearby, said: "Bullets were flying around. I saw a person walking back and forth. His attitude was very cocky, like self-confident. So, for a moment, I thought he was security. His dress reminded me of body armor. He had a helmet.

"My assumption is around 100 shots were exchanged," Teodorovic said. "He [the gunman] was ready for war. He had multiple [ammunition] clips. They were taped together, so he was ready to die."

Another violent New Year's confrontation with police led to the death of an unidentified man who officers said was armed with a shotgun behind a building in the 600 block of West 51st Street.

Officers responding to gunshots early Friday confronted the man, identified themselves and ordered him to put the gun down, said Officer Eddy Zelaya, a department spokesman. When the man pointed the gun at the officers, they shot him, Zelaya said.

Three people were shot as they sat in a car Friday evening in the Mid-City area, according to Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesman Brian Humphrey. The shooting occurred about 8 p.m. in the 2500 block of South West Boulevard. Humphrey said witnesses told paramedics that a gunman walked up to a car with four people inside and began shooting. A 17-year-old male was shot in the head was hospitalized in critical condition. An 18-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman with gunshot wounds were listed in serious condition. A 34-year-old woman who was injured by flying glass was listed in good condition.

Shots were fired but no injuries were reported in two other incidents involving police early Friday. One incident occurred in Lake View Terrace in the 13100 block of Mercer Street, and the other was reported in the 200 block of 104th Street.

In all, Los Angeles police received 662 reports of shots fired New Year's Eve and early New Year's Day, a small increase over last year's holiday tally.

This year, police said they confiscated 27 firearms and made 22 arrests.

Times staff writers Frank Clifford and John Mitchell contributed to this story.

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