Burbank Officers Recovering After Shootout at Kmart

Shoplifter apprehends gun and goes on shooting spree

The Burbank police officer who was shot three times in the chest and once in his leg, suffered only a moderate leg wound thanks to his bulletproof vest, and is now home recuperating, said Burbank police Lt. Eric Rosoff.

A second Burbank police officer remains hospitalized in stable condition Sunday with an injured hand, said the police lieutenant.

A handcuffed suspect who somehow broke free shot both officers.

"It's amazing. There were 11 gunshots," said Rosoff.

The shooting, outside the Kmart store at 1000 N. San Fernando Blvd., occurred at noon on Friday, but police have disclosed little about how the suspect got the pistol. Witnesses said it appeared the handcuffed man grabbed an officer's service gun.

The names of the officers and the suspect are being withheld.

Witnesses said the officers were walking the handcuffed shoplifting suspect out of the store when someone shouted "he's got a gun," and several shots were fired moments later.

Joseph Hoage, 57, of Santa Barbara, who was near the officers and the suspect, told KCAL9 what he heard and saw.

"So I walked five feet ... and as I started to walk, I heard 'He's got a gun, he's got a gun,' " said Hoage. "So I dove behind my car and heard several shots. So I looked, and so the officer got shot in the hand. He went to the right to take care of himself, you know, just stunned, and the other cop emptied out a stun gun -- hit the guy about six times.

"And it was unbelievable (because) the guy was cuffed. I mean, I couldn't see how he would get the gun, but evidently he got the officer's gun and just unloaded on him."

Frank Galuppo, 50, of Burbank, said he saw the first officer, who was shot in the hand, stagger away and the other officer struggling with the suspect.

Once the officer had the suspect on the ground, he used a stun gun on him, said Galuppo.

Steve Starleaf told Channel 9 he heard about six shots.

"And then I looked over there and the officer ... was holding him against the car, holding him down," said Starleaf. "And I guess he dropped his gun -- the other guy -- because the other officers came up and he said, 'Don't touch that gun. Don't touch that gun.'"

Apparently, security guards in Kmart had handcuffed the shoplifting suspect before police arrived.

The suspect was taken to a hospital to be treated for cuts and bruises suffered in the struggle, and was expected to be booked on two counts of the attempted murder of a police officer.

Witnesses were urged to call Sgt. Tony DeSantis at (818) 238-3242, or Detective Brian Gordon at (818) 238-3248.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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