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Gunman with rifle opens fire at LAPD near South L.A. park, prompting massive search

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People gather at a South Los Angeles park, looking toward where a man opened fire at police Thursday evening.
(Leila Miller / Los Angeles Times)

A man armed with a rifle fired several rounds toward Los Angeles police officers Thursday night near a park in South Los Angeles, and police returned fire at the gunman.

It’s unclear if the shooter was struck by police gunshots. He fled the area, prompting a massive search that was expected to continue late into the night.

Officers in the area reported they were fired upon about 7 p.m. at San Pedro and 49th streets, on the western edge of the South Park Recreation Center, said Officer Tony Im, an LAPD spokesman.

Authorities did not know how many officers returned fire.

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Police set up a perimeter in the neighborhood to search for the gunman, who was described as an adult Latino male wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

No injuries were reported, Im said.

Just before the violence erupted, a group of children were playing soccer in the park, which has a pool, baseball diamond and tennis courts.

The burst of gunfire brought the game to a halt, and families and children ran for cover.

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One woman ran toward the shooting, yelling, “Where’s my son? Where’s my son?”

Gregorio Garcia was with his wife, daughter and three sons, and when he heard the shots, he threw himself and his family to the ground.

“This area is hot,” said Janet Aguilar, who was inside her car and lives nearby. “A lot of stuff going on like shootings. I don’t think I’ll bring [my kids] back for soccer practice.”

As the sun set, more police descended on the neighborhood and at least one helicopter circled overhead.

Meanwhile, an investigation into the officers’ use of potentially deadly force was underway, which is standard procedure when LAPD officers discharge their weapons. The incident will also be reviewed by the district attorney’s office, the Police Commission and its inspector general.

leila.miller@latimes.com

Twitter: @leilamillersays

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

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Twitter: @MattHjourno

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UPDATES:

9:55 p.m.: This article was updated with confirmation that police returned fire at the shooter.

This article was originally published at 8:35 p.m.

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