Tactical teams were searching an apartment building that houses mentally ill people Wednesday evening in the search for a sniper who opened fire from the structure and wounded a deputy outside the nearby Lancaster sheriff’s station, officials said.
Deputy Angel Reinosa, 21, was wearing a bulletproof vest in the parking lot of the station at 501 W. Lancaster Blvd. when shots rang out about 2:45 p.m., said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Weber.
He was hospitalized with a “very minor” wound and in good spirits surrounded by family Wednesday evening, Weber said.
Reinosa is a rookie who’s been with department for a year and came to the Lancaster station for training in May. The captain said he was going to his personal vehicle when he was struck.
The gunfire is believed to have originated from the four-story Arbor Fields apartment building, about a block north of the sheriff’s station. The complex is next to a Mental Health America facility that provides housing and counseling to people with mental health issues, according to Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris.
A perimeter was set up around the area as SWAT teams hunted for the shooter, going through apartments deciding who to evacuate and who to shelter in place, Weber said.
The gunman has not been identified, but tactical crews were working to isolate a potential apartment, according to Weber.
Parris said he was outraged that the housing complex was placed so close to a sheriff’s station.
“It’s not just a four-story apartment building; it’s a four-story apartment building that is government-subsidized for mentally ill people,” he said. “Why do you put mentally ill people in a four-story building across from the Sheriff’s Department? It’s indefensible and something has to be done about it.”
Parris said Reinosa was leaving the station and getting ready to take his bulletproof vest off when the shots rang out. A nearby grammar school was also in the gunman’s range and had to be evacuated, he added.
“As the mayor of Lancaster, I cannot begin to tell the people of Lancaster how sorry I am that we now live in a city that had this occur in it,” Parris said. “How is it possible one of our newest deputies gunned down while he was getting into his car? It shakes the core of everything we have.”
About 50 county fire personnel were on standby in case of more gunfire, officials said.
Those evacuated from the building were being housed by Red Cross at Antelope Valley High School.
Metrolink's Antelope Valley Line was closed between Lancaster and Palmdale until further notice due to the active scene.
Two people were detained for being uncooperative during the investigation, deputies wrote in a tweet later on Wednesday, adding that the investigation is ongoing and the scene is still considered active.