Jose Ortega had just finished mowing the lawn and was watching television inside his Boyle Heights home when he heard the scream of the first siren Thursday night.
Then he heard a second siren and a third. As the noises grew, Ortega, 68, peered out his front window, then went to his door.
A police car was stopped in front of Ortega’s home. An officer jumped out, holding a rifle. Ortega shut the door and moved back inside.
Another neighbor heard yelling, then gunshots.
The deadly drama unfolded Thursday night in a quiet cul-de-sac on Atwood Place, where police shot and killed a man at the end of a chase through the hilly Boyle Heights neighborhood. LAPD officials said the man was a passenger in a stolen vehicle and was armed with a gun that was found at the scene.
Coroner’s officials identified the dead man as Omar Gonzalez, a 36-year-old L.A. resident.
Gonzalez was the 11th person fatally shot by on-duty LAPD officers this year.
The sequence of events leading to the shooting began about 7:20 p.m., when officers started chasing a stolen vehicle, police said. The pursuit lasted just a few minutes before the car pulled into the cul-de-sac, LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado said.
Maria Gonzalez, 52, was watering the plants in her yard when she saw the cars pass by. The white car wasn’t going very fast, she said, but “too fast for this place.”
The neighborhood’s narrow, winding streets are filled with parked cars. The cul-de-sac — which has sweeping views of downtown L.A. and the Griffith Observatory — is small, with a yellow “dead end” sign perched on the corner.
The car stopped near the bottom of a steep driveway at the end of the cul-de-sac, where Preciado said a male passenger got out of the car and ran. At least one neighbor told police that the man had a gun, the sergeant said.
One of the officers then shot Gonzalez, who died later at a hospital.
The gun was found at the scene, Preciado said.
The officers were wearing body cameras and their patrol car was also equipped with a camera. Preciado said detectives were reviewing the footage as part of their investigation into the shooting, which will also be reviewed by the district attorney’s office, Police Commission and its inspector general.
A woman who was driving the stolen car was arrested on suspicion of felony evasion of police, Preciado said. The LAPD has not yet released her name.
On Friday morning, Ariel Leon lighted a white candle at the end of the driveway. He stepped back, crossing himself, then kissed his hand and pointed it toward the sky.
Leon, 32, said he’s know Gonzalez for more than a decade. He described Gonzalez as a good person who worked construction and was a loving father to two young boys.
“I came to pay my respects,” he said. “It’s a shock to me.”
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