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Off-duty LAPD officer is shot, in serious condition

Anthony Razo, 49, had worked with the Hollenbeck Division's gang detail. He is attacked while leaving his City Terrace home to go play golf.

February 01, 2009|Ruben Vives and Richard Winton

A 49-year-old off-duty Los Angeles police officer was in serious condition Saturday night after being shot in the shoulder during a struggle with two assailants who approached him as he was leaving his City Terrace home, police said.

The 14-year-veteran, Anthony Razo, is assigned to the Hollenbeck division and previously worked with the station's gang detail. He was leaving his house in the 800 block of North Gage Avenue about 5 a.m. Saturday to play golf when he was attacked near his SUV.

The motive for the assault, and whether the officer was targeted or a random victim, is under investigation.

Police said Razo and one attacker were armed with handguns.

During the struggle, Razo's weapon dropped and was picked up by one of the assailants and used to shoot the officer in the upper region of his right shoulder, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said.

Razo was found in his front yard, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Gil Carrillo. Razo was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

"It is very fortunate that the shot that struck him didn't take his life," said Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, who said the gunfire also broke several of the officer's ribs.

Razo's wife and three of his five children were home at the time of the shooting, Carrillo said.

"Now you understand why gun and gang violence should be our priority," L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a morning news conference.

Investigators described the two suspects as male Latinos with shaved heads.

No arrests have been made. Sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting and set up a wide perimeter in the neighborhood throughout the day.

A large police presence descended on the neighborhood of modest homes Saturday, including LAPD officers, gang specialists, canine units, sheriff's deputies and a SWAT unit.

About 4 p.m., as the postal carrier was delivering mail, deputies took a handcuffed man into custody. But authorities said his arrest was unrelated to the shooting investigation and would not comment further.

Two houses down from Razo's home, Jose Perez, a 40-year-old construction worker, was trimming his hedges. "I feel bad" for the officer, he said. They "are dealing with criminals all the time, you just don't know."

The Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement that 2009 continues a "deeply disturbing criminal trend" of attacks on police officers. In 2008, the police union said, officers were shot at 14 times.

"Our message this morning to the suspects is simple: Law enforcement is going to work together and combine resources. We will find you and bring you to justice," said union president Paul M. Weber.

"Until we get into the investigation, it's going to take a little while -- we're going to have to do some background and spend a lot of hours with Officer Razo," Carrillo said.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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