by Trang Do
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two Palm Springs, CA police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty Saturday, while responding to a domestic disturbance call. A third officer was also shot and is alert and recovering in the hospital. The suspect was not immediately captured.
“I am awake in a nightmare right now,” said Chief Bryan Reyes of the Palm Springs Police Department.
His voice shaking at times, Reyes held several news conferences to update reporters, as officers kept watch outside the Palm Springs home where the shooting happened.
“Palm Springs lost two brave officers,” Reyes said. “They go out every day and put their boots on the ground for everybody in this community. They gave it all for you.”
It all started with a 911 call at 12:18 p.m. from a woman who said her adult son was causing a disturbance. Chief Reyes said officers arrived at the home and tried to reason with the man.
“The officers, from what I understand, were near the front door trying to negotiate for the suspect to just comply,” he said. “It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire on a few of the guardians of this city.”
Reyes identified one of the officers killed as Jose “Gil” Vega, 63, a husband, father of eight, and a 35-year veteran of the department.
“You have an officer that was qualified for retirement five years ago. Here he is 35 years in, still pushing a patrol car to make it better for our community on a day he wasn’t even scheduled to work,” he said.
Reyes identified the other slain officer as Lesley Zerebny, 27. She was married to a sheriff’s deputy and just returned from maternity leave. Her daughter is just four months old.
“Here you have a wonderful, young, dedicated, female officer that pressed forward everyday to make it better for everybody else and she gave her all,” he said.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has taken over the investigation. Officers, deputies and members of the SWAT team remained outside the home for hours, believing the suspect is still inside.