A search was underway late Wednesday in an apartment building where authorities believed they would find a sniper who wounded a deputy in the parking lot of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster station.
About 2:50 p.m., Sheriff’s Deputy Angel Reinosa, 21, suffered a “graze wound” to the shoulder while walking to his car in the station’s lot. Preliminary reports are that someone fired at the deputy from a nearby four-story apartment building.
Reinosa was taken to a hospital, where he is expected to recover. Authorities said Reinosa’s bulletproof vest saved his life.
“He is doing great, thankfully,” Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Weber said. “The wound was minor and he’s been treated and he’s doing well, in high spirits.”
No surgery was needed, Weber added.
Through Wednesday afternoon into the evening, deputies had the area blocked off and believed the shooter was contained. The Sheriff’s Department said the shot came from a considerable distance. It was unclear how many shots were fired.
Officials believe the suspect is inside the apartment building. Deputies used binoculars to scan the building for a possible sniper, and officers were positioned nearby. The SWAT team and armored vehicles were also at the scene.
Because of concern for sniper fire, deputies were told to approach the area only from the west. Deputies spent several hours clearing nearby buildings, including a library and an apartment complex.
The public was told to avoid the area.
A Sheriff’s Department source said the shooter fired a high-velocity rifle round that hit Reinosa.
The deputy made a radio call from the helipad in the station’s parking lot about 2:53 p.m. and said there were two shots fired from north of the helipad from the apartment building nearby, according to preliminary information provided by authorities. Reinosa was able to scramble back to the station and get medical help.
Reinosa has been with the Sheriff’s Department for a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training, Weber said at a news conference Wednesday night.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that the deputy’s bulletproof vest saved his life but that the bullet deflected into his shoulder.
“He was walking out of the sheriff’s station, and a sniper took a shot at him,” Parris said. “It is incomprehensible in our city.”
Parris said during the news conference that the shooter fired from a “building filled with people who are being treated for mental illness.”
But the shooter appears to have fired from a building that provides permanent supporting housing for a variety of people, including low- to moderate-income people and people who have disabilities, have been diagnosed with mental illnesses or were recently homeless.
Mental Health America of Los Angeles’ Antelope Valley enrichment services building shares a parking lot with the apartment building but was not where the shooter fired from, said a source who was not authorized to comment publicly.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.