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Marine Corps veteran charged with shooting CHP officer in Studio City

Police offers look inside a tent at a homeless encampment
Authorities investigate the site where a man accused of shooting a California Highway Patrol officer was arrested at a homeless encampment in Lake Balboa on Tuesday.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A Marine Corps veteran was charged Thursday with attempted murder of a peace officer after authorities alleged he shot a California Highway Patrol officer during a traffic stop Monday night in Studio City.

According to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, the charge filed against Pejhmaun Iraj Khosroabadi of Van Nuys comes with an enhancement for allegedly using a firearm causing great bodily injury.

“Based on the facts of this case, I have taken the step of authorizing the filing of a felony attempted murder charge with a gun enhancement that, if found true, could result in a sentence of 40 years to life in prison,” Dist. Atty. George Gascón said Thursday. “I believe these are appropriate charges for the person accused in the horrific shooting of a CHP officer.”

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Khosroabadi, 33, was taken into custody by Los Angeles police about 12 hours after the CHP officer was shot multiple times during a traffic stop in the Campbell Hall Episcopal School parking lot shortly before 8 p.m. Monday.

The 27-year-old officer, who has not been publicly identified, suffered severe injuries from gunshot wounds after the assailant delayed complying with a traffic stop in the 4500 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, according to the CHP. The officer had been on the job about a year.

A law enforcement source said the officer was shot in the face a couple of minutes into the traffic stop. The officer was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Khosroabadi, who had been driving a white sedan, was injured and fled the scene, authorities said.

The man who shot and killed two El Monte police officers this week could have faced additional time in prison, but may have received a lighter sentence as a result of one of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascon’s policies regarding ‘prior strike’ convictions. A judge later deemed the policy illegal.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Khosroabadi was found inside a tent on Gloria Avenue in the Lake Balboa area with a hand injury, apparently from a gunshot wound.

Deric Lewis, who lives in a tent in the encampment, said the suspect came into his tent Monday night and spent the night there. “He had a gun and blood all over his clothes,” Lewis said.

Lewis said Khosroabadi told him he was a Marine, served in Afghanistan and “was in the bloodiest battle in Afghanistan.”

Khosroabadi served from Aug. 21, 2007, to Aug. 20, 2011, and was a corporal upon discharge, said Yvonne Carlock, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps’ Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department.

He was deployed to Afghanistan from September 2010 to April 2011, serving with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, Carlock said.

Known as the Dark Horse Battalion, or the 3/5, the unit had 24 killed in action and more than 175 wounded as it fought to wrest control of Helmand province’s Sangin district from the Taliban, The Times reported when the battalion’s Marines returned from their deployment in 2011.

The 3/5 lost more personnel in combat than any of the Marines’ other battalions during the first 10 years of the war.

Justin Flores, who allegedly fired at the officers, was on probation for a gun charge at the time of the shooting, court records show.

Robert Thompson-Khosroabadi, the suspect’s brother, said his sibling’s “mental health state took a turn for the worst” after his deployment.

He described his brother as a “die-hard American who served his country” and has been denied help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“He is not a terrorist. He is not a bad person. He’s the most loving person I’ve ever met, and he’s the kind of guy that will give you the shirt off his back,” Thompson-Khosroabadi said in a statement. “He was on his way to give a toy to our younger cousin with autism when the incident occurred. PTSD can strike at any moment.”

In his announcement Thursday, Gascón said his office is asking the court to hold Khosroabadi in custody on preventative detention “based on the dangerousness of the defendant and the callousness of the offense.”

“If the judge grants the office’s request for preventative detention, it will ensure that the defendant will remain in custody pending the outcome of the trial,” the district attorney said.

Khosroabadi’s scheduled arraignment hearing Thursday was continued to June 30, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office.

The court did not need to decide on the request for preventative detention because Khosroabadi’s defense attorney agreed he could be held without bail until the next court date, Santiago said.

It was not clear who is representing Khosroabadi.


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