A 29-year-old man was sentenced to death Friday for the murders of two Palm Springs police officers, authorities said.
John Felix opened fire on the officers with an AR-15 rifle just as they were responding to his mother’s home for a domestic violence call on Oct. 8, 2016.
Lesley Zerebny and Jose “Gil” Vega were with two other officers when they arrived to the house in the 2700 block of North Cypress Road at 12:10 p.m. They tried getting Felix to come out of the home but instead he shot through the closed front door.
“I would describe this as an ambush,” Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said days after the murders. “Those police officers walked into a trap.”
The shooting also wounded a third officer and led to a 12-hour standoff involving multiple law enforcement agencies. Felix didn’t come out of the home until authorities deployed chemical agents inside.
“Almost immediately after introducing chemical agents inside the residence, the suspect emerged out the back door,” Riverside Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Ray Wood said following Felix’s arrest.
Zerebny was just returning to work after being on maternity leave when she was killed. Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes described her as a “wonderful, young, dedicated” officer who left behind a husband and 4-month-old daughter.
Vega was a 35-year veteran of the Palm Springs Police Department who was set to retire the same year he was fatally shot. A father of eight, Vega was working an overtime shift the day of the shooting.
On Wednesday, the department said his daughter, Vanessa Vega, was escorted by officers to her first day of 7th grade.
“They have and always will be family,” the agency wrote on Facebook.