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More Details Emerge on LAPD SWAT Siege

February 08, 2008  | 

Los Angeles media is now reporting additional details on the LAPD SWAT standoff that left five people dead, including a decorated SWAT officer, the alleged gunman, and three members of the alleged gunman's family. Another SWAT officer was seriously wounded in the incident.

Several police sources told the Los Angeles Times that the shooter was Edwin Rivera, 20.

It is believed that the incident began with a dispute between Edwin Rivera and his father Gerardo Rivera, 50. It is believed that Gerardo Rivera, Edgar Rivera, and Andy Rivera were killed before police arrived on the scene.

Neighbors told the Times that there had been strains in the family involving Edwin Rivera and his father over the father's girlfriend.

LAPD was called to the Rivera's San Fernando Valley home Wednesday night about 9 p.m. when a man called 911 and told the operator that he had killed three people in the house.

Patrol officers set up containment on the house and called for SWAT.

Believing that hostages were in danger in the home, incident command ordered SWAT to make an entry. SWAT breached the home about 12:30 a.m.

The entry team hit the front door while another group of SWAT officers fired weapons at the back of the home to distract the suspect. The entry team threw in a flash-bang, but its effect was apparently muted by a low wall inside the home. Officers told the Times that the same wall obscured their view of the interior of the home.

According to the Times, officers moved along the wall, and the gunman popped up and shot Officer James Veenstra in the face from 10 to 15 feet away. The officers returned fire. But the gunman got off more shots and hit Officer Randal Simmons in the neck.

The bullet that struck Simmons pierced his brain stem. He died minutes later at a local hospital.

Veenstra was hit in the jaw. He underwent a three-hour operation to save his life. Doctors told the Times that he faces many future surgeries, but his prognosis is very good. He is the husband of LAPD Capt. Michelle Veenstra.

After the shooting SWAT withdrew to evacuate its wounded and one of the civilian victims whom they thought was alive.

Throughout the long night, police brought in relatives of the alleged gunman who asked him to surrender via phone calls and over a bull horn. Their pleas were met with silence.

About 5 a.m., SWAT was sent back in to engage the barricaded gunman. Tear gas canisters were fired into the home, and the team's armored vehicle was used to batter a hole into a rear wall. More tear gas was introduced through the broken wall.

A woman identified by some reports as Elba Rivera, reportedly Gerardo Rivera's girlfriend, escaped through the wall. Police sources told the Times she hid in a closet during the standoff and appears to be a "victim."

The house started to burn shortly after the tear gas canisters were introduced. The fire appears to have flushed the suspect out of the house. He came out firing and was killed by a SWAT sniper.

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