Former fugitive who shot at sheriff’s deputies near Whittier pleads guilty

NORWALK — A former fugitive who opened fire on two sheriff’s deputies with an AK-47 and badly wounding one of them more than a decade ago in unincorporated Whittier pleaded guilty to the attack on the deputies Tuesday, officials said.
Norwalk Superior Judge Peter Espinoza sentenced Emigdio Preciado Jr. to 25 years in prison as part of a plea agreement, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Krasnowski said.
During what was scheduled to be a preliminary hearing leading up to a trial, Preciado pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on peace officers, as well as the special allegation of using a firearm in a felony, Krasnowski said.
“I think, for most of us, we’re just very happy that it’s finally come to a conclusion,” said Lt. Jeff Scroggin of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, where the involved deputies were assigned at the time of the shooting.
“It’s been a long time, almost 11 years,” said, adding that deputies involved — Michael Schaap and David Timberlake — were consulted by the district attorney’s office before the plea deal was offered.
The plea will make a lengthy trial unnecessary.
“To have this day go very quickly, in the long term, I think is good,” Scroggin said. “Hopefully, this puts a bad day behind us for once and for all.”
Schaap and Timberlake could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Deputies Schaap and Timberlake pulled over a van containing Preciado and three other men at Gunn Avenue and Mulberry Drive in the early morning hours of Sept. 25, 2000.
Preciado then emerged from the van with an AK-47 assault rifle and unleashed a barrage of about 30 bullets at the deputies.
Schaap was struck in the head by a bullet and suffered brain damage. Timberlake was not hurt.
Preciado fled to Mexico after the shooting, where he remained a fugitive until he was arrested in 2009 by the FBI and Mexican police, then extradited back to the U.S. to face charges last year.
A video surfaced showing Preciado dancing at a party only months after the near-fatal attack, and he was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list of fugitives in 2007.
“It’s an example of how when law enforcement agencies work together, they can bring people to justice,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “A violent criminal has been taken off the streets.”
The three other men inside the van at the time of the shooting have since been sentenced for their roles in the crime.
Omar Jimenez is serving a 15-year prison sentence for attempted murder, Carlos Gutierrez received 19 years in prison for attempted murder and Jose Guardado is serving 19 years in prison for conspiracy.
Preciado is required to serve at least 85 percent of his 25-year sentence, or more than 21 years.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email