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Officer Injured in Rifle Attack

Times Staff Writer

Doctors at USC University Hospital performed emergency surgery late Sunday to save the hand of a rookie officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who was struck down in an assault-rifle attack, authorities said.

The officer, James Tuck, 26, was wounded by at least three bullets fired Saturday night from an AK-47 by a passenger who jumped from a stolen car in the Montecito Heights area.

The shooting came after Tuck and his partner stopped a black Honda Accord that they suspected was stolen.

Authorities said one bullet nearly severed Tuck’s left hand at the wrist and it was uncertain whether specialists would be able to save it.

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They said that Tuck, who also was wounded in his lower back and struck in the stomach by a bullet that passed through his protective vest, was in serious but stable condition and that his life was not in jeopardy.

Police Chief William J. Bratton called the shooting “an attempted assassination of two police officers,” referring to Tuck and his training officer, 18-year LAPD veteran John Porras, whose face was cut by glass fragments.

Porras was able to return fire and wounded the suspect in the leg.

Noting that both occupants of the Honda were arrested near the scene within 90 minutes of the 11 p.m. Saturday shooting, Bratton credited Tuck and Porras’ “quick reactions and excellent training for keeping these two violent criminals from getting away.”

Police provided limited details about Tuck. They indicated, however, that he is within a couple of months of completing his probationary period after graduating from the Police Academy nine months ago, and that he is the brother of another LAPD officer.

Police said his brother and parents were by his side at the hospital.

According to police, the suspected shooter faces charges of attempted murder of police officers.

He was identified as Jose Perez, a 31-year-old resident of Montecito Heights. He was being held at Los Angeles County Jail, with bail set at $2 million.

The name of the other suspect, who was described as a Latino male in his 30s, was not released.

Officials said they were evaluating whether to charge him with attempted murder of police officers and driving a stolen vehicle.

The shooting took place on Sierra Street, just north of Flora Avenue near Lincoln High School.

Police said that after stopping the Honda, Perez charged them, firing the AK-47, raking the patrol car with bullets that pierced its windshield. “It’s a miracle that neither officer was killed,” Lt. Paul Vernon said in a news release.

After Perez was shot in the leg, police said, he dropped his rifle and fled, but was quickly arrested in a nearby yard and taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The other suspect drove off but abandoned the Honda on Gillig Avenue, a block north of the shooting.

He was arrested after tips from residents led them to where he was hiding under a vehicle, police said.

Police later determined that the Honda had been reported stolen from northeastern Los Angeles on July 28.

A spokesman said the vehicle had paper dealer license plates even though it was a late-1990s model Honda.

Bratton scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. today to discuss his concerns about the rising number of firearm assaults on police this year.


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