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Man sought in officers' shooting

The pair, shot during a routine traffic stop, are stable. Police continue to hunt for the gunman.

December 24, 2006|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

Long Beach police officials on Saturday said they were searching for a local man, Oscar Manuel Gallegos, as a suspect in Friday's shooting of two police officers in the city's downtown.

Gallegos, who is 36 or 37, is described as 5 feet 9 and 250 pounds with a lengthy criminal history, including arrests for assault with a deadly weapon and drug-related crimes, said police Chief Anthony W. Batts at a news conference late Saturday.

"Turn yourself in," Batts said, directing his comments at Gallegos, "because we're coming for you."

The two officers, a nine-year veteran and a rookie, were in critical but stable condition a day after allegedly being shot by Gallegos, whom they had pulled over in downtown Long Beach for running a red light, police said Saturday.

Officer Abe Yap, 37, was on patrol about 1:30 p.m. Friday with Officer Roy Wade, 39 -- who graduated three weeks earlier from the police academy -- when Gallegos got out of his sport utility vehicle at 6th Street and Long Beach Boulevard, firing multiple shots, said Officer Jason Evans, a police spokesman. The patrol car's windshield was struck at least six times.

Clarifying an initial account that the officers had stepped out of their patrol car and returned fire, Evans said, "The officers never exited their vehicle."

After the SUV was pulled over, Gallegos "jumped out and immediately began firing at them. They were not able to return fire," Evans added.

Gallegos fled in the SUV south on Long Beach Boulevard, officials said. At the Broadway intersection, he exchanged gunfire with other police officers responding to the scene, Evans said. No other officers were injured. Gallegos drove off.

The 1998 white Nissan Pathfinder police allege he was driving was found about 7 p.m. Friday two blocks away in the underground parking lot of an apartment building in the 200 block of Elm Avenue.

Batts said Saturday that the officers were doing "much better" than doctors had expected.

Yap was shot just above his lip and the bullet exited just above his cheek, missing the brain, Evans said.

Wade suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body, including at least one just above his bulletproof vest.

Both officers are married. Yap has a small child with a medical condition who recently got out of the hospital, Evans said.

Both officers are easygoing and very likable, he added.

"It's definitely very emotional, and it hits close to home," said Evans, who graduated from the academy the same year as Yap.

Police urged anyone who has information to call investigators at (562) 570-7244.

ron.lin@latimes.com

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