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Man arrested in shooting of LAPD officer in Watts

Winton and Wagner are Times staff writers.

Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officers arrested a man who barricaded himself in a home in Watts for several hours Friday after allegedly shooting an officer who survived because he was wearing a bullet-resistant vest.

Samuel Jackson, 28, was booked on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, authorities said. He was being held in lieu of $1-million bail.

Officer Owen Berger is recovering after undergoing surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA-Medical Center for a gunshot to the right wrist area, said Sgt. Ruby Malachi.

The four-year veteran was hit in the wrist and near the center of his vest after responding to a call at 2 a.m. with his partner. The vest “saved his life,” Malachi said.

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Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the gunman opened fire with a 9-mm pistol as the officers entered the house in the 10900 block of Croesus Avenue and they returned fire. “Luck was with us,” Smith said. “If it wasn’t for the vest, this could have been a fatal wound.”

Nearly five hours after the shooting, SWAT officers entered the house and captured the suspect hiding in the attic or closet area, Malachi said.

Jackson was taken to a hospital for an examination but had no serious injuries, police said. After being formally booked, he is expected to be charged with attempted murder on a police officer.

Police said he has a history of mental health issues that allegedly came to a head Friday morning. When officers responded to a call from outside the house about 2 a.m. of a possible hostage crisis, three people rushed out of the house.

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Family members who ran out told police that the officers “weren’t needed anymore and that everything was good,” said Officer Norma Eisenman.

But as officers entered the house they were met by gunfire. The officers returned fire, with Berger being shot before they escaped from the home.

The other officers who fired weapons were Sgt. Daniel Gardner, a 30-year veteran, and Officer Thorsten Timmermans, who has been on the force about 3 1/2 years.

Officers from across South Los Angeles immediately responded to the scene, and police cruisers flooded the neighborhood as the man barricaded himself inside the house.

Family members told officers that the man had been waving a handgun and threatening to shoot them before police arrived.

SWAT officers tried for several hours to negotiate with the man, but when that failed they entered the house and began a room by room search until they found him concealed but unhurt, police said.

In addition to the suspect, police found a handgun believed to have been used to shoot Berger, Malachi said.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

james.wagner@latimes.com


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