A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in California, who launched a citywide manhunt for the sniper who shot him in his own station’s parking lot, a criminal investigation, police said late Saturday, Aug. 24.
Angel Reinosa, 21, who is still a trainee with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster station, claimed he had been shot in the shoulder of his bulletproof vest while making his way to his car on Wednesday, Aug. 21, authorities said. Reinosa announced over his radio he had been shot by someone in the apartment building next to the parking lot, according to ABCNews.
At the time, investigators believed his bulletproof vest had saved his life but that a bullet had grazed his shoulder.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department instantly mobilized a large operation to look for the sniper, with a SWAT team and armored vehicles called to the area, even flying in a helicopter with a police sniper patrolling the skies.
Though Reinosa was initially taken to a hospital for treatment, detectives said they later saw “no visible injuries,” L.A. County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said.
Investigators and colleagues became suspicious of Reinosa’s story. Because his radio call about the incident was too calm, a hole in his shirt too big for the minor wound he claimed to have suffered, several sheriff’s officials told the L.A. Times on Sunday, Aug. 25.
Deputies and the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau halted their search, officials said, and homicide detectives, assisted by forensic experts, turned their attention to Reinosa. By 9:30 p.m. that day, Reinosa was already under heavy suspicion.
Reinosa eventually met with sheriff’s department investigators on Saturday, Aug. 24, and confessed he had not shot at as he previously claimed.
Reinosa told investigators he had caused the holes in his uniform by cutting it. Wegener said, “There was no sniper, no shots fired,and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder.”
Reinosa didn’t provide an explanation for his motive for fabricating the story, Wegener said.
“Much of his statement was self-serving, didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” the captain said.
Los Angeles County district attorney’s office will be responsible for determining any charges against Reinosa, but Wagner said that they “could start with false report of an emergency.”
The 21-year-old will also be fired from the department, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said. Limon said the department was “incredibly disappointed” and that a criminal investigation has been launched.