An officer of the LAPD SWAT team was killed early this morning and another wounded in a fierce gun battle with a barricaded man. The gunman was killed by a SWAT sniper.
The bodies of three males whom police believe were relatives of the alleged gunman were also found in the home.
The incident began about 9 p.m. Wednesday after a man called a 911 operator and said he had killed three people at a home in the San Fernando Valley. LAPD patrol officers and LAPD SWAT responded, setting up containment on the home.
At about midnight, a decision was made to enter the home. Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell told the Los Angeles Times that SWAT made the entry after officers on the scene became concerned that there might be people in distress inside the home.
SWAT breached the door and a fierce gunfight ensued. Officer Randal Simmons, a veteran SWAT officer, was shot in the head and mortally wounded as the team made the entry. Officer James Veenstra was hit in the jaw during the same gunfight.
Simmons and Veenstra were rushed to a nearby hospital where Simmons died just after 1 a.m. Veenstra is expected to survive. Doctors told the Times that his prognosis is “very good” after a three-hour operation to save his life. They also told the paper that the officer faces more surgery.
Long after Simmons and Veenstra arrived at the hospital, their teammates were still at the scene. Tear gas was fired into the home around 5 a.m. Choking from the tear gas, a woman ran from the home. Police say they believe she was a victim. She was rescued and questioned.
Some time after the gas was introduced into the home, it burst into flames. The fire flushed the suspect who reportedly came out of the door about 7:30 a.m. firing his weapon. He was killed by a SWAT sniper.
We made every effort to reach out to the suspect," Deputy Chief Mike Moore, who served as the incident commander during the standoff, told Fox News. "Unfortunately, the suspect had no contact with us and showed no effort to surrender."
Simmons leaves behind a wife and a teenage son and daughter. He spent some of his off-duty hours mentoring youth in South Los Angeles. Born and raised in New York, he played football at Washington State University and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. An injury ended his football career, and he joined the LAPD in 1981.
Officer Veenstra is the husband of LAPD Capt. Michelle Veenstra. His recovery is expected to take months.
Simmons is the first LAPD SWAT officer ever to be killed by a violent act. The team suffered its first death in 2000 when Officer Louis Villalobos was killed in a training accident.