City News Service

Palm Springs Police to Pay Tribute to Fallen Officers

What to Know

  • The Palm Springs Police Department will pay tribute to two Palm Springs officers killed in the line of duty.
  • They will remember Jose "Gil" Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27.
  • They were shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance on Oct. 8, 2016.

The Palm Springs Police Department will pay tribute to two Palm Springs officers killed in the line of duty on the second anniversary of their deaths.

A 6 p.m. remembrance gathering will be held at the Palm Springs Police Memorial Plaza to remember Jose "Gil" Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27, who were shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance on Oct. 8, 2016.

Vega and Zerebny are two of only four officers whose names adorn the memorial plaza, situated in front of Palm Springs Police headquarters. They were the first Palm Springs police officers to be killed in the line of duty since Jan. 1, 1962, when Officer Lyle Wayne Larrabee died during a vehicle pursuit.

The only other death in the department was that of Officer Gale Gene Eldridge, who was fatally shot on Jan. 18, 1961, while investigating an armed robbery. Vega had been with the department 35 years -- five years past his retirement eligibility -- and had planned to finish his career last December.

He had eight children, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Zerebny had been with the department for a year and a half and had just returned to duty from maternity leave after the birth of a daughter, Cora, four months before her death.

Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against the alleged shooter, John Hernandez Felix, 28, who is accused of opening fire on Vega, Zerebny and a third officer through the metal screen door of his home as they approached.

He also allegedly fired on five of their colleagues, who were not struck by the gunfire. Felix's trial has not yet begun, and he is next slated to undergo an Atkins hearing, which determines whether a defendant is considered too intellectually incapacitated to be executed.

The 2002 Atkins v. Virginia case led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it is cruel and unusual punishment to execute a defendant who has intellectual disabilities.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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