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Shooting of school police officer called a hoax by authorities

January 27, 2011|Andrew Blankstein and Joel Rubin | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

A Los Angeles school police officer who was wounded last week in a shooting that prompted authorities to shut down a large swath of Woodland Hills concocted a story that he was the victim of the shooting, authorities said Thursday night.

The startling revelation came at a hastily called news conference by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, who said detectives became suspicious about the officer's story as they investigated the case.

Police earlier had said that Los Angeles Unified School District Officer Jeff Stenroos was shot in the chest after he was confronted by a man Jan. 19 as he was attempting to break into vehicles in Woodland Hills, near the eastern boundary of the El Camino Real High School campus.

The incident generated a massive police response that inconvenienced thousands of people for the day as officers blocked roads, shutdown schools and refuse to let people in or out of a 7-square-mile area.

More than 3,000 officers swarmed the west San Fernando Valley, locking down nine schools and setting up the dragnet as they looked for a suspect described as a white man in his 40s, wearing a bomber or black hooded jacket and blue jeans.

While many expressed frustration and anger at the inconvenience caused by the size and length of the operation, LAPD officials defended the decision as necessary to protect the public. They noted that the incident was especially serious because it involved an attack against a fellow law enforcement officer.

Authorities had even offered a $100,000 reward for information of the case and compiled a composite of the shooting suspect.

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