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Long Beach police search for gunman

Authorities say Oscar Gabriel Gallegos, sought in the shooting of two officers now listed in critical condition, has a long criminal history.

December 25, 2006|Richard Winton and Stuart Silverstein | Times Staff Writers

Authorities pressed ahead with their search Sunday for a suspect with a long criminal history in connection with the Friday afternoon shooting of two Long Beach police officers.

The officers, Abe Yap, 35, and Roy Wade Jr., 39, remained hospitalized Sunday in critical but stable condition. A department spokesman, Jason Evans, said neither officer was "out of the woods," but that doctors were optimistic about their prospects for recovery.

Police, revising a previous news release, identified the suspect as Oscar Gabriel Gallegos, 33, of Long Beach. A warrant has been issued for his arrest for attempted murder of a police officer.

Officials said Gallegos opened fire after he was pulled over for running a red light about 1:20 p.m. Friday near 6th Street and Long Beach Boulevard in downtown Long Beach.

According to police, Gallegos surprised Yap and Wade when he jumped out of his sport utility vehicle after being stopped and immediately started firing. He struck the patrol car's windshield at least six times. Yap and Wade were unable to return fire or get out of their vehicle.

Yap, a nine-year veteran, was struck near the lip, and the bullet exited just above his cheek, missing his brain.

Wade, who graduated three weeks earlier from the police academy, suffered at least four gunshot wounds to his upper torso and neck, including at least one shot just above his protective vest.

Police said Gallegos fled south on Long Beach Boulevard and, at Broadway, exchanged gunfire with police officers arriving at the scene, then drove off. Officers pursued Gallegos, and later found his white 1998 Nissan Pathfinder in the underground parking structure of an apartment building in the 200 block of Elm Avenue.

Gallegos was described as 5 feet 9 and 250 pounds, with tattoos on both forearms and short hair or a shaved head.

Police said his record includes arrests for assault with a deadly weapon and drug-related crimes, and that he was first arrested in Long Beach in 1990 on a firearms violation.

Lt. Steve James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Assn., credited the quick actions by the officers' colleagues with saving Wade and Yap's lives.

Police who arrived at the scene after the shooting, seeing the severity of Wade and Yap's wounds, rushed the two officers to nearby Long Beach Memorial Medical Center rather than waiting for paramedics to arrive, while other officers cleared a path by blocking traffic with their patrol cars at intersections along the way.

James said officers struggled to carry Wade, who is 6 feet 5 and a former Long Beach Polytechnic High School basketball star who worked in various positions in the school district before beginning a police career this year.

Both Wade and Yap are married.

Yap, who has been Wade's training officer, is known in the Long Beach Police Department as a stolen car expert.

Officials said he is a UCLA graduate and father of a 3-year-old child who had recently come home from the hospital following surgery.

Officials urged anyone with information about the case to call police at (562) 435-6711.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

stuart.silverstein@latimes.com

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