Man Arrested For Fatally Shooting Two Police Officers In Palm Springs

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Elena Weissmann Contributor
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Authorities arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of killing two police officers and injuring a third in Palm Springs, Calif.

John Felix’s arrest comes 12 hours after the fatal shooting, which occurred during a domestic disturbance call on Saturday afternoon. Felix is suspected of killing Officer Jose Gilbert Vega, a 35-year veteran, and Officer Lesley Zerebny, a new mother.

The incident began when a woman made a 911 call at a house in Palm Springs, telling the operator that her adult son was causing a disturbance, said Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes. When the two officers arrived, Felix refused to open the door and threatened to shoot the two officers.

Within 10 minutes, Felix opened fire through the closed door, fatally wounding Vega and Zerebny.

A 12-hour standoff between Felix and swarms of police officers followed before the suspect was arrested and taken into custody, the Riverside County Sheriff’s department said. Charged with two counts of murder of a peace officer, Felix will be booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, about 60 miles away from Palm Springs.

Reyes described the police officers as “guardians” of Palm Springs in a news conference early Sunday morning.

“Today Palm Springs lost two of its brave officers,” Reyes said. “They go out every day with their boots on the ground. They gave their all for you.”

Vega, 63, and a father of eight, was due to retire in just a few months. Zerebny, 27, recently returned to duty after maternity is survived by 4-month-old daughter and her husband, who is a deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am awake in a nightmare right now,” Reyes said.

Police, along with the surrounding community, are grieving the two officers through prayers and a candlelight vigil. California Gov. Jerry Brown offered his condolences to the officers’ families and ordered the state capitol flags to be flown at half-staff.

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