Thursday, February 7, 2008

LAPD SWAT officer killed in standoff

A standoff in Los Angeles has resulted the death of an LAPD SWAT officer - the first time a member of the elite SWAT team has ever been killed while on duty.

The veteran LAPD SWAT officer was shot to death and another one was critically wounded in a gunbattle inside a home with a man who said he had earlier killed three family members.

It was the first fatality in the history of the elite LAPD SWAT team, which was created in 1967 and went on full-time status in 1971.

Around 7.30am on Thursday morning with hundreds of officers surrounding the home where the shooting took place and the shooter still not in custody, after an 11-hour standoff, a fire broke out at the property.

After the fire started, the SWAT team moved in and a gun battle broke out.

Killed in the shooting was LAPD Officer Randy Simmons, 51, confirmed First- Assistant police Chief Jim McDonnell. Critically wounded but expected to survive was Officer James Veenstra, the 51-year-old husband of an LAPD captain.

Each of the two officers spent more than 25 years in the Los Angeles Police Department and more than 20 in the SWAT team.

The man who shot them, who has not been named yet, remained barricaded inside a home in Winnetka, just north of Los Angeles early on Friday morning.

Some 200 officers, included SWAT team members, surrounded the residence in a standoff that McDonnell referred to as an ongoing 'dynamic tactical situation'.

An armored SWAT vehicle was at the scene and helicopters circled overhead. Police fired several tear gas canisters into the home just before dawn and used the vehicle to strike the back of the residence.

Police did not immediately confirm that three people had been killed, as the suspect said when he called police last night. But people familiar with the operation at the scene said hat two bodies were inside the residence in addition to the one that could be seen on the front lawn.

McDonnell said SWAT officers entered the residence shortly after 12.30am triggering an exchange in which two veteran officers were wounded. Simmons died at Northridge Medical Center shortly after 1am and Veenstra was taken in surgery this morning.

Even though the SWAT team has been involved in thousands of incidents, this was the first to have claimed the life of one of the unit's members, McDonnell said.

He added: "I want to say how deeply saddened we are this morning that we lost a member of our LAPD family. "Our hearts and prayers go out to these families at this tough time."

The incident began around 9pm on Wednesdasy when a man locked himself up inside the home, although at this stage police could not confirm why the man had allegedly killed his family members or barricaded himself inside.

By Nicola Pittam, Feb 07 2008 © Copyright 2008 - Showbiz Spy

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