Officer, suspect remain hospitalized following El Monte shootout; suspect’s name still withheld

EL MONTE — A police officer and suspect who were wounded in a shootout in El Monte Friday remained hospitalized Sunday, authorities said.
A second police officer and a civilian who were wounded in the gun battle have been released from the hospital, Detective Kevin Acebedo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The investigation into the 4 p.m. Friday shooting at Valley Boulevard and Durfee Avenue was ongoing, Acebedo said, however it initially appeared that the civilian who was wounded in the shootout was shot by the suspect’s bullet.
“That’s still under investigation, but that’s what we believe at this point,” he said. “I would believe that it was the suspect’s (gunfire).”
The detective declined to release the name of the suspect, a 43-year-old man believed to be a transient who frequented the West Covina area, saying he and fellow investigators still needed to “tie up some loose ends” in the investigation.
The man was being held without bail in the jail ward at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center on suspicion of five counts of attempted murder.
The shooting occurred just after a minor traffic collision, Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau said.
The suspect allegedly crashed his Chevrolet sedan into a van occupied by two men and fled the scene, Acebedo said, adding that the crash appeared to be a random traffic collision.
As two El Monte police motorcycle officers were talking to the apparent hit-and-run victims, he said, the suspect drove by and opened fire on the officers and civilians from his car.
One officer was struck in his forearm, and the other suffered a grazing wound to his thigh, Saldana said. The injured officers returned fire, striking the suspect in his hand and shoulder.
One of the civilians, a man who Acebedo said appeared to be in his 20s, was shot in the ankle during the gunfight.
The suspect continued driving until he intentionally crashed into a responding El Monte police car at Durfee and Elliot Avenue, the detective said.
He then abandoned his badly damaged vehicle and tried to carjack another car, officials said, but the large man behind the wheel put up a fight.
The police officer got out of his damaged police car and shocked the suspect with a Taser as he fought with the attempted carjacking victim, Acebedo said. The suspect was arrested without further incident.
The arresting police officer was hospitalized for minor injuries suffered in the crash and released later the same day, authorities said.
Acebedo also declined to comment Sunday on why detectives believe the suspect may have opened fire on the officers and civilians.
“We need to do a little bit of further investigation on that,” he said.
Acebedo also declined Sunday to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting. Police said Friday they were both veteran officers.
The five attempted murder charges the suspect was booked on stem from allegedly shooting at the two officers and two civilians, and ramming the other officer’s car, Acebedo said.
The Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is investigating the shooting, and El Monte police officials deferred all further comment to the sheriff’s department.

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