Man Threatening Officers With Rod Is Shot to Death


A man who was threatening Los Angeles Police Department officers with a metal rod that looked like a weapon was fatally shot early Tuesday by one of the officers, police said.

Gus Henry Woods, 56, was pronounced dead at 3:01 a.m., a spokesman for the coroner’s office said. Woods was shot once in the chest by Officer Wayne Cespedes, 32, and died at a local hospital, said Lt. Anthony Alba, an LAPD spokesman.

Officers from the LAPD’s West Valley Division were sent about 1:45 a.m. to the 3800 block of Shoup Avenue to investigate calls from residents who said one or two men were vandalizing cars on the street. Police also received calls that a man was walking in traffic lanes on Shoup, Alba said.


Cespedes along with Officers David Yep, 29, Joseph Ramirez, 44, and Olin Osborne, 28, tried to calm Woods, who was yelling and running around the street, Alba said. Woods apparently had been using the 10-inch metal rod to scratch his 1978 Fiat Coupe, Alba said.

Woods’ estranged wife, who lives about a block away, told police he had been involved in a cult and spent time last year as a mental patient at a Ventura city facility, Alba said. The woman told the officers she feared for her safety because he was behaving strangely.

“They continued to try to verbalize with him because he was agitated,” Alba said.

When Woods refused to go home, the officers tried to detain him as he threatened to kill them, Alba said. He raised the metal pipe over his head and walked toward the officers, ignoring their orders to stop. He got within about 20 feet of the officers, according to Alba.

Believing that Woods was holding a deadly weapon, Cespedes fired two rounds from his semiautomatic pistol before another officer could get there with a shotgun loaded with shot-filled bags, Alba said.

“The officer indicated he thought [the rod] was some type of weapon,” Alba said.

Robbery Homicide and West Valley detectives are investigating the shooting, Alba said.

Residents on Tuesday observed Woods’ car, which remained on the street with its upholstery torn, cigarette ashes in the back seat and scratches on the hood.

Everett McFee said the commotion awakened him at his home a block away. “It was like a big explosion,” he said.

Woods’ car was parked in front of the house that Cheryl and Andy Marks have lived in for two years. She said she was awakened by a man’s shouts after 1 a.m. Her husband called police after going outside and witnessing the man kicking the car.

“I heard the shot and that scared me,” Cheryl Marks said. “It can happen wherever you are. There’s no place that’s safe in L.A.”