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Officer Wounded, Fugitive Slain in Shootout

September 22, 2000|ELISE GEE and GINA PICCALO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Pico Rivera man wanted on a $1-million felony assault warrant was shot to death by Whittier police early Thursday after he opened fire on officers who were in pursuit of someone else. An officer was seriously wounded in what authorities described as a bizarre incident.

Eddie David Magana, 32, died at the scene, police said.

Officer Jerry Heinemann, 43, suffered several gunshot wounds and was airlifted to County-USC Medical Center. Late Thursday he was reported in stable condition awaiting surgery.

"He's going to survive, but . . . it's going to take time and some mending," Whittier Police Department spokesman Chuck Drylie said.

Police said the confrontation with Magana was a coincidence that occurred while they were chasing a man who had slit his own throat, apparently distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend. Neighbors had called police about a couple fighting in a small apartment complex in the 7300 block of Milton Avenue, a few blocks northeast of Whittier Union High School.

When officers confronted the bleeding man about 1 a.m., he jumped from a two-story balcony and ran. They followed a bloody trail to an upstairs apartment.

"We were not looking for [Magana]," Drylie said. "We did not even know who he was."

Moments after a resident let officers inside the apartment, Magana burst from a rear bedroom closet and sprayed the room with bullets, police said.

"Officers were diving down because bullets were coming through the wall," Drylie said.

Heinemann, a 15-year police veteran, was shot in the shoulder, in the hip and three times in the leg, shattering his calf bone. Another officer was grazed by a bullet to the knee.

Police returned fire, killing Magana.

The unidentified man with the throat injury was later found hiding in the enclosed patio of a nearby apartment. He was taken to County-USC Medical Center for treatment. Drylie said he was awake and alert Thursday morning.

An investigation of the shooting is pending.

Relatives said Magana, a known gang member, vowed never to return to prison, Drylie said.

"When cops showed up, they were looking for someone else, but he panicked and thought they were looking for him," Drylie said. In a May 1 incident in which Magana held his girlfriend at gunpoint inside her home, deputies tried to force him out with tear gas, but he escaped and had been at large ever since, interim regional parole administrator Steve Goya said. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued a $1-million warrant for his arrest.

Since 1987, Magana had served two terms in prison, totaling eight years, for second-degree robbery and possession of codeine.

He was released from prison last year and had been living with his grandmother in Pico Rivera and working off and on in construction.

The bizarre nature of the shooting left officers and family members shaken Thursday. Desk officers fielded calls from worried relatives, Drylie said.

"Just judging from my wife's reaction . . . they're calling in because it brings reality to the fact that it could happen to any of us at any time," Drylie said.

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