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16-Year-Old Is Shot Accidentally During Police Search

A 16-year-old boy was accidentally shot by his own gun Tuesday when a Los Angeles police officer grabbed it while searching him, authorities said.

The boy was hit once in the back when his .22-caliber revolver discharged in his jacket pocket as Officer Rudy Gonzales pressed the trigger while frisking the youth, said Officer Don Cox. The incident occurred at Vanowen Street and Woodman Avenue about 2:30 p.m.

The boy was listed in serious condition at Northridge Hospital Medical Center but is expected to recover from his injuries, Cox said.

Gonzales, a five-year officer stationed at the Van Nuys Division, and his partner, Rita Benefield, a four-year officer, were investigating a “man with a gun” call. They arrived at a Unocal gas station to find the 16-year-old boy and another youth walking on Vanowen Street, Cox said.

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As Gonzales searched one boy, Benefield held onto the second suspect’s arm, but the second youth slipped out of his jacket and ran off, Cox said. That made Gonzales turn, accidentally causing the revolver to discharge, Cox said.

When officers searched the jacket of the youth who fled, they found a .38-caliber pistol, Cox said. “They were either coming back from a crime or on their way,” said Cox.

“There was a third guy with them who calmly walked away when the police drove up,” said Jack Fustokjian, manager of the Unocal station. Cox also said that there may have been a third youth.

The boy who fled was still at large Tuesday night.

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