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Off-Duty Officers Told of Odd Behavior : Gunman Outside Church Slain by Police

Times Staff Writer

Two off-duty Los Angeles police officers fatally shot an armed man outside a Sun Valley church service after church members said he was behaving strangely, authorities said Monday.

The shooting occurred about 6 p.m. Sunday on a street outside Grace Community Church in the 13200 block of Roscoe Boulevard. The 39-year-old man killed was not identified pending notification of his family.

Detective Damon Loomis, 47, and Officer Shelley Gale, 36, were attending the service when they overheard church members tell an usher they had seen a man with a gun loitering outside the rear of the church, police said.

“He was doing things normal people don’t do,” Sgt. Sid Nuckles, of the Police Department’s officer involved shootings squad, said of the man.

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“He was running around talking to no one in particular, talking to himself, jumping around, acting strangely. He was not holding the gun,” Nuckles said.

Church members told the two officers that the gun was in the man’s rear waistband or back pocket, Nuckles said.

When Loomis and Gale went outside, they spotted the man sitting in a car parked on Cantara Street at the rear of the church parking lot, police said. The two officers, who were not in uniform, approached the car and identified themselves as police officers, displaying their badges, police said.

“The suspect, while still seated in the driver’s seat in the car, withdrew and pointed a loaded .22-caliber revolver at Detective Loomis,” said Officer Joe Mariani, a department spokesman.

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“The detective believed he was about to be shot by the suspect and fired two rounds” at the man in the car, Mariani said. Police said Gale also fired two shots into the car.

“The suspect was apparently unaffected from the gunfire and still attempted to point his gun at Detective Loomis,” Mariani said. “Detective Loomis and Officer Gale fired again at the suspect until he released his grasp on the weapon.”

Police said Gale fired seven more times and Loomis fired an additional three times. The man in the car did not fire his gun. He was hit in the face and upper torso by the officers’ shots and died at the scene.

Police said Monday they could find no explanation for the man’s behavior. There was no evidence of drugs in the car, and detectives discovered no record that the man had mental problems, Nuckles said.

An autopsy to be performed later this week will determine if the man was using drugs at the time of the shooting, Nuckles said.

The officer involved shootings squad investigates all shootings involving police officers and turns its findings over to a grand jury.


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