LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles County deputy lied when he said he was shot in the shoulder while standing in a sheriff’s station parking lot last week and will face a criminal investigation, authorities said.
“The reported sniper assault was fabricated” by Deputy Angel Reinosa, Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said at a news conference late Saturday.
Reinosa, 21, made a frantic radio call Wednesday claiming he’d been shot by someone in a nearby building as he walked to his car outside the Lancaster station, prompting a huge police response. Deputies set up a perimeter and SWAT officers went door-to-door inside a sprawling building complex to search for the shooter.
At the time, investigators believed Reinosa’s bulletproof vest saved his life but that a bullet grazed him. A department statement the next day said a single round hit the top of Reinosa’s shoulder, damaging his uniform shirt but failing to penetrate his flesh.
But no bullets were recovered from the scene and detectives saw “no visible injuries,” Capt. Kent Wegener said Saturday night.
Much of the young deputy’s statement “was self-serving and didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Wegener said. “There were many things that didn’t add up.”
Reinosa eventually admitted making up the story and using a knife to cut the two holes in his shirt, Wegener said.
Reinosa has been relieved of his duties and could face charges for filing a false report about a crime, officials said. He didn’t explain his motive for the fabrication, Wegener said.
Reinosa has been with the LA County Sheriff’s Department for a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training.
Deputies searched through the night for the sniper inside the block-long, four-story structure with many windows that overlook the sheriff’s facility in downtown Lancaster, a desert city of about 160,000 people north of Los Angeles.
Tactical teams worked their way through the building, evacuating some people and having others shelter in place, officials said.
Deputies cleared other nearby buildings, including a library. Authorities urged residents to avoid the neighborhood.
Metrolink train service was halted in the area.
The search was called off Thursday and authorities said the shooter was still at large.