A sniper located in an apartment building in Los Angeles County opened fire on a sheriff’s deputy just outside his station house on Wednesday afternoon.
The deputy, identified as 21-year-old Angel Reinosa, was shot in his bulletproof vest in the parking lot of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lancaster station by someone in the apartment building across the street, which is a government-subsidized facility.
The shooting took place in Lancaster, about an hour north of downtown Los Angeles, at about 2:45 p.m. local time.
“Think about what happened here — a sniper took out one of our deputies,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said at a press conference. “And the only reason that deputy is alive is because he had his vest on.”
“He was getting ready to take that vest off,” he added. “Had he done so, it would’ve been a much more tragic situation.”
The suspect is still on the loose, authorities said early Thursday. Sheriff’s deputies cleared the apartment building overnight and did not find the person. The suspect has not been named, and it is unclear if they are a resident of the building.
Reinosa has been treated and released from the hospital and there was no puncture wound.
He has been with the sheriff’s office for about a year and at the Lancaster station for just three months, authorities said.
Sgt. Benjamin Grubb, in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau, called the shooting a “contemptible assault.”
Parris was critical of a mental health facility, Mental Health America of Los Angeles, that shares a parking lot with the apartment building, however, the apartments provide housing for a variety of low- and middle-income residents and those who were formerly homeless, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s not just a four-story apartment building, it’s a four-story apartment building that is government subsidized for mentally ill people,” Parris said. “I mean, let’s call it what it is. Why do you put mentally ill people in a four=story apartment building across from the sheriff’s department?”
A spokesperson for the facility told Los Angeles ABC station KABC that the mental health facility is in the same complex, but separate from the apartments, which are not specifically for patients.
“They let people live in our apartment complex who have mental illness,” Terrisa McGhee, who lives in the apartment complex, told KABC. “It’s kind of scary because there’s no security onsite 24 hours. Management is never here when things happen. The cops are in there constantly. So it’s not a surprise.”
It is unknown whether the suspect is a patient.