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'Complaint' leads to gunfight in LA police station

'Complaint' leads to gunfight in LA police station

April 8th, 2014 in News

Los Angeles police officers stand outside the West Traffic Division station on Tuesday after an officer was shot and wounded inside the station Monday evening.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Los Angeles police officer sat at a desk on a quiet night with a single companion in the small, otherwise empty station lobby. In the next room, some three dozen people sat in a subdued neighborhood council meeting.

A man came through the front door, walked the 25 feet to the front desk and said "I have a complaint." Then he started shooting.

The close-range gunfight that followed between the suspect and the desk officer left both men shot several times, yet both survived, the officer crediting his backup pistol that deflected one of the rounds with saving his life, police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday as he and other department officials provided emerging details on the lead-up to the Monday night shooting and its aftermath.

The suspect, Daniel C. Yealu, 29, was in critical condition, and police do not yet have any indication of his motives or intended targets beyond his stated "complaint," Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

Officers serving a search warrant at Yealu's west Los Angeles home Tuesday turned up ammunition and several weapons including two assault rifles, a shotgun and two handguns, said Smith.

Yealu had a license to work as a security guard starting in 2005 and a license to carry a firearm starting in 2007, records showed.

It's unclear why he brought only a Glock pistol into the lobby of the West Traffic Division station, and left an AK-47 behind in the car, Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday during a meeting of the Police Commission.

The officer, a 7-year veteran whose name has not been released, was in good condition despite being hit several times without a bulletproof vest, Beck said.

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said he was in good spirits and chatting with hospital visitors.

"He's got a big smile on his face," Soboroff said. "And his mom was there and she had a big smile on her face, and tears in her eyes."

Authorities said the shootout began at about 8 p.m. at the station 7 miles west of downtown where two detectives were shot and injured in the parking lot last year.

Police shut down a busy street near the station immediately after the shooting, clearing a path for ambulances.

It remained closed well into the night as police investigated, at one point calling in a bomb squad to check out the gunman's car, which was parked nearby. An AK-47 and ammunition was found in the car, Smith said. It was eventually cleared by the bomb squad and impounded.

In the council meeting just off the lobby, no one was injured but many got a terrible scare, and the chief said the people inside may have been targets too had the officer not taken down the suspect.

Daphne Brogdon, one of the council members, told the Los Angeles Times that when the gunfire began, she dove behind a lectern, trying to shield herself.

"I hid, and everyone else just hit the ground," she said. "Everyone was trying to be really quiet, and the shots continued."

One of her colleagues on the council was next to her.

"We were just holding hands," Brogdon said, "looking at each other saying, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.'"