A Latino man in his 30s died of multiple gunshot wounds early Friday morning after engaging Glendale police in a gun battle near Cerritos Elementary School.
No officers were injured during the battle, which started at 2:30 a.m. at San Fernando Road and Glendale Avenue. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Right now, we are trying to determine why at 2:30 this morning he was wandering the streets and firing his weapon before the police arrived, and why then, when the police arrived, he literally attacked the officers,” police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
Two Glendale police officers responded to the area near Cerritos Elementary School and Forest Lawn Memorial Park at about 2:30 a.m. after receiving reports of shots fired.
They didn’t see anyone, but did hear a gunshot, Lorenz said.
When they continued south on San Fernando, they saw the gunman walking toward them.
“They tell him to ‘Stop. Put your hands up,’ and all of sudden, he whips out a gun and starts shooting at the officers,” Lorenz said.
The officers took cover behind their patrol car and returned fire. But the gunman continued to advance while firing his pistol, Lorenz said.
“It was literally a gun fight,” he said.
The patrol car of a third officer who arrived on scene was struck by gunfire on the driver’s side and hood.
At some point, the gunman was struck and killed.
“It’s absolutely bizarre that this guy engaged the officers,” Lorenz said.
Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials preliminarily identified the gunman, described as being in his 30s, allowing police to contact his family to “see what the issue is and what may have led to his bizarre behavior,” Lorenz said.
The officers involved in the shooting returned to police headquarters, where they were to be interviewed by administrative officials and representatives from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Investigators spent much of the morning interviewing witnesses and scouring Cerritos Park and elementary school for evidence. San Fernando Road, between Glendale Avenue and Brand Boulevard, was closed during the investigation, snarling the morning commute.
Cynthia McCarty, the school’s principal, said that despite the deadly incident just steps from the campus, student life remained calm.
She and a psychologist visited classrooms to meet with students who may have needed help coping with the police activity, but by and large, the children were understanding and expressed no major concerns, McCarty said.
During the morning commute, officers escorted parents dropping off their children for school.
Friday’s incident was the second officer-involved shooting this year for Glendale’s force.
The first occurred June 21 in North Hollywood, where two robbery suspects allegedly attempted to flee and run over Glendale police detectives, prompting an officer to fire one shot, hitting the driver. He was taken to a hospital, where he recovered from his injuries.