Officials: Man who shot at passing cars, deputies arrested after SWAT standoff near Covina

COVINA >> A man shot at passing cars, then opened fire on deputies who responded to the active shooter, before a SWAT team arrested him following an hours-long standoff on Sunday.
The incident began shortly after 9:30 a.m. with reports of a man shooting a gun along Cypress Street, west of Lark Allen Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Elisabeth Sachs said.
“He was shooting at cars passing by,” the lieutenant said.
Deputies also came under fire as they rushed to the scene, she said. A patrol car was struck but no one was injured by the suspect’s gunfire.
“(Deputies) did not return fire based on the suspect’s concealed location near a house,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The gunman fled into a nearby home, on Roxburgh Avenue just north of Cypress Street, and refused to come out.
Deputies evacuated nearby homes and summoned a heavily armed and armored SWAT team to take charge of the standoff.
At one point, deputies used an armored paramedic truck to pick up several elderly residents from the driveway of their home and escort them out of the neighborhood.
A crisis negotiation team made contact with the barricaded suspect and worked to persuade him to surrender. A crowd developed around the scene to watch the standoff, prompting deputies to place an armored vehicle between them and the armed, holed-up suspect as a shield.
The suspect posted live videos on Facebook during the incident.
In one short video streamed toward the outset of the incident, he’s seen outdoors sticking his tongue out, brandishing a pistol, and saying “Big Slick Low,”in an apparent reference to his nickname, while appearing to slur his speech.
In another recording posted two hours later, the suspect is seen talking with a negotiator on the phone while indoors.
“Tell your men to stand back, I’ll (expletive) walk out surrendering,” he said.
The man is also seen placing the handgun against his head and threatening suicide.
“Tell them to back off. I’ll shoot my (expletive) face off right now.
The suspect filmed himself as he fired two gunshots at arriving deputies. “They’re here, they know where I am,” he says before firing a shot.
“I’m sorry guys,” he said before firing a second shot. Arriving deputies could be heard ordering him to lie down and surrender.
The suspect ultimately gave up about 12:45 p.m. and was taken into custody.
Sean Vasquez, 20, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on an peace officer, sheriff’s officials said.
The motive for his alleged rampage was unclear.
Neighbor Cindi Arp said she left her Roxburgh Avenue house about 9:25 a.m. when she heard “pow, pow, pow.” She presumed the three to four noises were fireworks and continued on her way. As she rounded the corner onto Cypress Street, she heard another volley of noises, but again, took them for fireworks.
“My husband called me five minutes later and said, ‘you left at the right time. We have an active shooter,’” Arp said.
No injuries were reported during the incident.
According to county booking records, Vasquez was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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San Bernardino shooting victim had fled Islamic terror in Iran


Benneta Betbadal fled Iran as a teenager nearly 20 years ago to escape Islamic terror before becoming one of 14 people to lose their lives in a coordinated attack at a work-related gathering Wednesday, according to loved ones and officials.
Betbadal, also described by officials as Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, died in the hail of bullets unleased by fellow San Bernardino County employee Syed Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27. Both suspects were later killed in a shootout with police.
“Benneta Betbadal was born in Iran in 1969. She fled to America at the age of 18 to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution,” according to a fundraising website set up by Ken Paulson. “Benneta initially settled in New York City, eventually moving to California and marrying her husband, Arlen Verdehyou, a police officer. They moved to Rialto, California and had three children, now ages 10, 12, and 15.”
It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago,” the statement said.
A graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, where she studied chemistry, Betbadal enjoyed her career with the county health department.
“Benneta left the house Wednesday morning, excited about a presentation she was scheduled to give to her supervisors and coworkers at their annual meeting,” Paulson continued.
“She loved her job, her community, and her country. Her greatest love, however, was for her husband, her children, and her large extended family,” according to the statement.
Donations to benefit Betbadal’s family are being collected online at


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San Gabriel Valley first responders hone skills in mock West Covina terror attack

WEST COVINA >> Dozens of San Gabriel Valley first responders took part in a large-scale active shooter training scenario simulating a terrorist attack on a West Covina shopping mall Sunday.
Six local law enforcement agencies, federal officials and firefighters took part in the mock terror attack at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, which was held early in the morning, before mall business opened for the day.
0929_NWS_SGT-L-TRAINING1“We take the safety of our visitors and our residents very seriously,” West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said. “There have been several incidents that have happened on the east coast — one happened last week — that certainly have raised our awareness that we need to be prepared. And in my view, we need to be ready for something and hope it never happens, (rather) than to respond to something we weren’t prepared for.”
A blast from a flash-bang grenade intended to simulate a bomb detonation signalled the beginning of the intensive drill at the mall, where three West Covina police officers played the role of heavily armed gunmen bent on creating carnage. Within minutes, the sounds of simulated gunshots echoed through the mall as police engaged the mock terrorists in a gunfight.
0929_NWS_SGT-L-TRAINING5Two of the pseudo suspects carried assault rifles, while the third carried a shotgun.
Participating first responders were not told ahead of time what they would be facing in the drill, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez explained.
“Each officer involved in this has to determine how to best handle the situation,” he said.
Police simultaneously hunted for the gunmen and rescued mock victims who wore makeup to simulate injuries. Some officers carried their standard duty sidearms, while others were armed with rifles.
Patrol officers called in a SWAT team after the attack turned into a hostage situation.
0929_NWS_SGT-L-TRAINING3Practicing a technique known as “fast-roping,” West Covina police SWAT members slid down a rope from a hovering Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter to join in the operation.
The West Covina Police Department’s recently acquired rescue vehicle, a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle acquired from the U.S. Department of Defense, was used to evacuate victims.
After a scenario that lasted about an hour, the three suspects had been killed in shoot-outs with officers. Three civilians had also been killed during the scenario, and many more wounded.
0929_NWS_SGT-L-TRAINING7Police officers from West Covina, Covina, Baldwin Park and Irwindale police departments were joined by California Highway Patrol officers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, FBI agents, West Covina firefighters and mall security officials in responding to the mock attack, Lopez said. While West Covina has hosted similar training scenarios in the past, Sunday’s training session was their biggest.
0929_NWS_SGT-L-TRAINING11About 75 law enforcement officers participated, along with about 60 volunteers playing the part of victims or bystanders, officials said. The volunteers were primarily police Explorers from the West Covina, Glendora and Ontario police departments.
“Whether this incident happens in West Covina, or happens in Irwindale or Covina, we’re familiar with working with each others’ team,” the chief said. “We might be in different uniforms, but in the end, we’re all in one uniform when it comes time to deal with a critical incident.”
After watching the exercise unfold at the mall, West Covina City Councilman Fred Sykes said he approved.
“A place this large, it’s unfathomable for us not to look at what to do in this type of situation,” he said.
The costs and planning associated with massive drill is a wise investment, as it may help save lives down the road, Sykes said.
“This is extremely important for our community,” the councilman said.
Just like in sports, he added, “The battles are won in practice.”

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