VALINDA >> A SWAT team captured the suspect in last week’s shooting of a West Covina police officer during an early-morning raid in Valinda Thursday, bringing an end to a six-day manhunt, authorities said.
Jose Luis Chavez, 47, of West Covina is accused of the attempted murder of Officer Kenny Benitez, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and West Covina police officials said. Benitez suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen in the gunfight, which unfolded about 11:20 p.m. on May 20 on Yaleton Avenue, just north of Badillo Street in West Covina.
Law enforcement officer from throughout the region launched a manhunt for Chavez the night of the shooting, serving search warrants and offering a $20,000 reward in connection with the case, but the alleged shooter remained at large, until Thursday morning.
“Detectives developed information over the past few days that related to his possible whereabouts,” Lt. Steve Jauch of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “A search warrant was written, and this morning at around 2 a.m., sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau personnel served that search warrant at a residence in the 1200 block of Foxworth Avenue in an unincorporated area (patrolled by the) Industry sheriff’s station.”
The arrest was made about one block from the scene of Friday night’s shooting.
SWAT deputies surrounded the home and ordered Chavez to surrender, Jauch said. He complied, emerging from a detached garage on the property.
“He was taken into custody without incident,” Jauch said.
Chavez had a gunshot wound to his left arm, he said. The wound likely resulted from the gunfight with the West Covina officer, who returned the suspect’s gunfire, however forensic testing was yet to be completed.
Chavez has gang ties, as well as “a violent criminal history” and is on felony probation under AB 109 guidelines following a previous conviction, Jauch said. A full account of Chavez criminal history was not available Thursday.
It was unclear whether others would face charges related to helping Chavez flee from justice.
“There were other people on the property and they were interviewed,” Jauch said. No arrests had been made.
It also remained unclear whether a $20,000 reward offered by West Covina for information leading to Chavez’s capture and conviction would be claimed.
Chavez was walking with a woman and pushing a bicycle when Benitez first approached him. Chavez ran, and Benitez gave chase.
Chavez allegedly produced a gun and fired multiple times, striking the officer. Benitez shot back, but the suspect managed to flee the scene.
Jauch said investigators on Monday found a gun not far from where Chavez ran from the officer, but he said they hadn’t determined whether the gun was used in the shooting.
The wounded officer has since been released from the hospital to continue his recovery at home, West Covina police Chief David Faulkner said. He was fortunate that the bullet somehow missed all vital organs.
“Officer Benitez is recovering. He’s doing much better than he was and improving every day. We’re very pleased about that,” Faulkner said.
Benitez is a 9-year law enforcement veteran who joined the West Covina Police Department a little over a year ago, the chief said. Prior to police work, he was a U.S. Marine and served three tours of duty overseas.
The chief said he was proud of West Covina officers, as well as the many other law enforcement officers who worked, “almost around the clock, tirelessly, to support the sheriff’s department in being able to track and locate this suspect.”
According to county booking records, Chavez was being held without bail at the jail ward of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTOS: [TOP] West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner speaks at a press conference oustide the West Covina Police Department on Thursday, May 26, 2016, regarding the arrest of Jose Luis Chavez, 47, of West Covina, for allegedly shooting and wounding a West Covina police officer in a gunfight a week earlier. (Staff photo by Brian Day) [BELOW] Photo of Jose Luis Chavez, 47, of West Covina (Courtesy, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)