Chain Saw-Wielding Man Charged in Attack on Business Owner, Police Officer in Torrance

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Police apparently fired on a man who had been armed with a chainsaw at an industrial property in Torrance on April 12, 2016. (Credit: Dino Mendoza)

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A man who was captured on cellphone video going on an apparent rampage at an industrial yard in Torrance, wielding a chain saw and finally getting fired on by police officers, was charged Thursday.

José Félix Campos Cortez, 44, of Compton was arraigned in Torrance court on Thursday afternoon, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

He pleaded not guilty and his bail was set at $1 million.

On Tuesday morning, Cortez entered an open yard on Yukon Avenue where Birchfield Enterprises operates a tree-trimming business as a subcontractor for Southern California Edison. He had occasionally worked for Birchfield, the company’s owner told KTLA Tuesday, but was not an employee.

Cortez allegedly threw rocks at the owner of the business. When a guard tried to intervene, Cortez allegedly chased the guard with a chain saw.

Cortez then got into a utility truck and tried to run over workers and responding police officers, according to a Torrance Police Department news release.

He rammed the owner’s vehicle, and then accelerated toward police officers who responded, the DA’s office stated.

In a chaotic scene, officers fired more than two dozen times, video from the scene showed, but Cortez was not shot. He was treated for other minor injuries, police said.

No officers were injured.

Cortez was charged with one felony count each of attempted murder of a peace officer and assault upon a peace officer, and two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism over $400.

If convicted as charged, Cortez faces up to life in state prison.

He is due back in court May 12.

KTLA’s Scott Williams contributed to this article.

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