Vernon, CA – A murder suspect was fatally shot on Wednesday after attacking and attempting to disarm a female South Gate police officer and punching her in the face, according to investigators.
South Gate Police Chief Darren Arakawa said members of the multiagency Southeast Gang Task Force were searching eight locations on April 5 in an effort to locate a wanted murder suspect, KABC reported.
Most of the searches involved homeless encampments along the Los Angeles River riverbed.
During one of the searches, an officer spotted the suspect at about 7:12 a.m. just before the suspect took off running.
Chief Arakawa said the fugitive fled on a bypass, then jumped down a 10-foot wall and landed on a surface street, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He ultimately ran into a truck yard located in the 5600-block of District Boulevard, according to KABC.
A South Gate police officer was able to locate the suspect, at which point the fugitive allegedly attacked her, according to police.
“Orders were given for the suspect to surrender, but he failed to comply,” Chief Arakawa said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “He then physically assaulted [an] officer and attempted to disarm her.”
But the officer wasn’t about to let go of her weapon.
“When he was unable to take her firearm, he proceeded to strike her with an overhand swing with his right fist,” the chief said. “After striking the officer, the officer returned fire, striking the suspect two times.”
The unidentified suspect succumbed to his wounds at the scene, KABC reported.
The officers searching for the fugitive had been warned ahead of time that he was believed to be armed, investigators said.
Police confirmed a gun was recovered at the scene, KABC reported.
Chief Arakawa said the suspect was a known gang member who was just released from prison last year.
He said the fugitive’s criminal history was so extensive, it “defies logic,” according to KTLA.
The suspect was wanted for both murder and attempted murder from incidents that occurred in March, KABC reported.
A $1 million warrant was out for his arrest, according to KTLA.
The officer who the suspect attacked was transported to the hospital and has since been released to continue her recovery at home.
She has been with the South Gate police department for less than 10 years, KABC reported.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta confirmed the investigation into the officer-involved shooting will be conducted by the California Department of Justice (CDOJ).
“The OIS incident resulted in the death of one individual and reportedly occurred after a foot pursuit involving the South Gate Police Department,” Bonta’s office said in a press release, according to KABC.
The investigation will be turned over to the CDOJ Criminal Law Division Special Prosecutions Section for an independent review once it is complete.