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Two officers shot

Man took one of their guns after being caught stealing at Kmart, police say.

July 03, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago, christopher.cadelago@latimes.com

Two Burbank police officers were shot and wounded Friday while responding to a shoplifting call after a man took one of the officers' weapons, law enforcement sources said.

Details of the shooting were still under investigation Friday evening, but sources said the man had been detained by Kmart security when officers arrived outside the store on San Fernando Boulevard. Though handcuffed, the man reportedly took one of the officers' guns while being transferred into their custody, and a struggle ensued, the sources said.

Police Sgt. Robert Quesada said he was unable to confirm or deny the sources' account. However, he did say both officers and the suspect did not sustain life-threatening injuries and are expected to recover.

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One of the officers was shot three times in the chest area of his bulletproof vest, Quesada said. The officer also suffered injuries to his leg from a possible ricochet.

"Even though he was hit, he was able to fight back and eventually take the suspect into custody without having to revert to deadly force," Quesada said.

An officer shot the suspect with a Taser, but authorities would not identify who used the less-than-lethal device.

The other officer sustained injuries after being shot in the hand. He was also wounded in the leg, and underwent surgery late Friday. Quesada would not identify the officers.

The suspect, a young, white, thin man, was wearing a bloodied shirt when he was taken away in an ambulance. Paramedics worked on the handcuffed man, whom police did not identify.

Police said he was caught trying to steal Blu-ray discs. But as it is uncharacteristic of a petty-theft suspect to threaten an officer, they said they would continue looking into the man's record.

The suspect, who was met at the scene by a woman pushing a stroller, yelled out while being taken away.

"Meet me at the hospital," he said.

The suspect was expected to be released from the hospital late Friday. After being released, Quesada said the suspect would be taken to Los Angeles County Jail to be booked on two counts of attempted murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges on Wednesday in Burbank Superior Court.

A handgun was found on the ground in front of the store, while officers combed the area for evidence. Surrounding streets were closed off, as was the adjacent parking lot. Authorities at about 1 p.m. began escorting shoppers inside the store to their cars.

Police provided shuttles for those whose cars were blocked by investigators and the command center, which arrived about 1:15 p.m. Anush Mirzae said she was inside a nearby linen store when she heard two gunshots. When she ran outside, she said she saw an officer tackle the man.

The man continued to resist, and a second officer Tasered him, said Frank Galuppo owner of the Curves Fitness across the parking lot from the Kmart.

"He was yelling and cursing at the officers as he lay on the ground," said Galuppo, flashing a handheld video of the suspect being carted away by paramedics. "He was resisting real bad."

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