Police Chief Bryan Reyes says three officers in Palm Springs, California were trying to resolve a family dispute Saturday when a man fatally shot two of them and wounded the third.
Reyes told reporters the officers were talking calmly to the man, trying to resolve things when he suddenly opened fire on them.
The chief, his voice breaking, identified the fatally wounded officers as Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny. He did not disclose their rank or any other information about them.
Reyes said the gunman was still at large and may still be in the home where the shooting occurred.
Officials said they were dealing with “an active scene” but provided few additional details. Police said the active scene was unfolding near the corner of Racquet Club Road and Sunrise Way.
Palm Spring Police Sergeant William Hutchinson said police don’t have a suspect in custody and have multiple SWAT teams combing the area. The department sent out a “code red alert” and people in several nearby blocks were being evacuated.
“If you do live somewhere in the area, keep your doors locked,” Hutchinson said. “Please do not answer your doors for anybody.”
The law enforcement source also said the original call for service was related to a family disturbance. An argument between a father and son had turned violent, the source said.
The source said SWAT officers are at the scene looking for suspects. Photos on social media show a huge police presence from numerous jurisdictions in the area.
Reached by phone just before 3 p.m., a manager of a nearby hotel said a helicopter had been circling overhead for the past 1 1/12 hours.
Alex Thomas, a manager at The Monkey Tree Hotel, which sits on Racquet Club Road, about half a mile east on the scene, estimated that about 10 squad cars had raced down the road, their sirens blaring, within the last hour.
She said she did not hear or see any shots fired, or know why police were swarming the scene.
But she described the areas as “real residential.”
“There’s a little school next to us,” she said. “We’re about the only business.”
So, she added, having a helicopter buzzing about was “highly unusual.”
The shooting comes four days after a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant was fatally shot during a burglary call in Lancaster. Authorities allege that the lawman was “executed” by the suspect, who was later captured.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.