An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer and a man were injured Wednesday in a shootout at a Sherman Oaks apartment complex that began after the officer discovered the man in his car.
The shooting occurred after the officer left his apartment and entered the subterranean locked parking garage of the complex in the 5200 block of Vesper Avenue, near Van Nuys and Magnolia boulevards, where he found the man sitting in the officer's car at about 2:25 p.m., said LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
The man was wearing the officer's bulletproof vest and had stolen the officer's gun from his duty bag, which was stowed in the car, Moore said.
The officer, who was armed with a backup handgun, confronted the man about the break-in. An altercation between the officer and the man ensued, which escalated to a shootout.
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The man fired at the officer, and the officer returned fire, Moore said.
The altercation "goes through the subterranean garage in an easterly direction to the back side of this apartment and into an east-west breezeway, where the suspect is struck … and falls to the ground," Moore said.
The officer retrieved the gun from the man and returned to his vehicle. He placed the weapons near the vehicle and collapsed with two gunshot wounds in his chest and one in his thigh, which he sustained during the shootout, Moore said.
Los Angeles Fire Department units arrived at the scene and rendered aid to the officer before taking him to a hospital, Moore said.
LAFD personnel also discovered the suspect in the breezeway throwing the officer's handgun magazines over a fence. He was shot in the shoulder and arm, was also given aid and taken to a hospital.
The officer is undergoing surgery, Moore said.
"I spoke to him before he went into surgery," Moore said. "Obviously these are very traumatic injuries and he is grateful to be alive, but he is not out of the woods yet."
The suspect was also listed in stable condition. His name was not released.
It was not immediately known how he gained access to the apartment's garage area or the officer's vehicle.
A shooting involving a security guard and two other individuals in the West San Fernando Valley in a shooting occurred about the same time as the Sherman Oaks shooting, Moore said.
"And we're currently investigating an attack … involving a family, involving young children, that were attacked by another family member," Moore said. "So we are in trying times and these are difficult times for all of us as we come out of this pandemic.
"What I ask for all of us to do is to keep all of our police officers in our prayers. They come upon these situations on- and off-duty and … these life challenging circumstances are cause to make split-second decisions and I'm grateful that in this instance he apparently will survive this attack.
"From what started out as a burglary, or what started out as simply as a theft into a vehicle -- the senselessness of this escalating to this level of violence really has me extremely troubled."