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Gun falls, shoots officer in the leg

Rialto policeman was removing the weapon from a 17-year-old's pants when it fired.

August 05, 2008|Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Times Staff Writer

A Rialto police officer was recovering this morning after he was shot in the leg by a gun that fell from the shorts of a 17-year-old boy he was searching, authorities said.

The officer, whose name has not been released, had stopped the teen at 10:30 p.m. Sunday in a courtyard at the Renaissance Village apartments on North Glenwood Avenue, said Rialto Police Lt. Joe Cirilo.

Officers were patrolling the area in response to recent shootings, including a fatal gang-related shooting two weeks ago, Cirilo said.

While patting down the boy, the officer discovered a handgun in his waistband and handcuffed him, Cirilo said. When the officer tried to remove the handgun, it slipped through the teen's shorts and discharged once, striking the officer in the left leg.

"Unfortunately, these guys don't use gun holsters, they just stick them in their waistbands," Cirilo said.

The wounded officer, who is in his 20s and has been with the department about a year, was taken to a hospital where he was in good condition this morning, Cirilo said.

The 17-year-old, whose name was not released, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a loaded firearm, Cirilo said.

After the shooting, a crowd formed in the apartment courtyard and police used a Taser on a man who crossed the crime scene perimeter. The man was later arrested, along with a woman in the crowd, on suspicion of failing to comply with a lawful order and interfering with a criminal investigation, Cirilo said.

Investigators recovered the handgun involved in the shooting and plan to compare it with evidence from shootings in the area to determine whether the teen was involved, Cirilo said.

It was not clear whether the teen, who is from Rialto, was affiliated with a gang, he said.

San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators will assist with the investigation, Cirilo said.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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