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Man Charged in Sniper Fire on 2 Officers

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A 22-year-old Van Nuys man was charged Monday with a sniper attack on two Los Angeles police officers in Panorama City last week that set off a widespread search of the neighborhood and at one point was thought to involve stolen military weapons.

Cesar Gallegos, who Los Angeles police identified as a member of a Van Nuys street gang, was held without bail on two counts of attempted murder, officers said.

Gallegos was arrested the day after last Wednesday’s sniper attack in connection with an unrelated stabbing, shooting and beating in June that happened close to the site of last week’s attack. But police said at the time that he was not connected to the sniper incident.

Officers Sonya Tiefenbacher and Ubaldo Zesati were issuing a traffic ticket in the 8500 block of Willis Avenue about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when their patrol car was hit by a .38-caliber slug.

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The shot, fired from the roof of a nearby apartment building, shattered a rear door window of the patrol car but did not injure the officers.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew W. Diamond said an informant told police that Gallegos fired the shot, using a pistol.

The shooting prompted police to quickly cordon off a three-block area of the neighborhood, which has a history of gang violence. About 40 officers conducted a three-hour sweep that edged into the early hours of the following morning.

At one point police also believed that a possible link existed between the attack and the discovery Saturday of a night-vision rifle sight among a cache of weapons found by officers investigating a Panorama City drive-by shooting.

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Eight people, including two U.S. Marines, were arrested in connection with the shooting and the recovery of the weapons. Speculating that the sophisticated telescope sight might have been stolen from the military, officers considered the eight to be possible suspects in the sniper attack.

A preliminary hearing for Gallegos was scheduled for Aug. 16 in Van Nuys Municipal Court.


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