Police search for the gunman after a sheriff’s deputy was shot heading to his car in a parking lot in Lancaster, Calif., Aug. 21, 2019.
The California sheriff’s deputy who launched an expensive, citywide manhunt for the sniper who shot him in his own station’s parking lot made up the entire incident, police said late Saturday.
Angel Reinosa, who is still a trainee with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster station, said he had been shot in the shoulder of his bulletproof vest while making his way to his car Wednesday. He announced over his radio in dramatic fashion he had been shot by someone in the apartment building next to the parking lot.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department immediately mobilized a large-scale operation to look for the suspect, even flying in a helicopter with a police sniper patrolling the skies.
It was all fake, L.A. County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said at a press conference.
The 21-year-old Reinosa met with sheriff’s department investigators on Saturday and confessed.
“Reinosa admitted he was not shot at as he previously claimed,” Wegener said. “He also told investigators he had caused the holes in his uniform by cutting it. There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder.”
Wegener said the deputy did not provide a reason for making the false claim.
“Much of his statement was self-serving, didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” the captain said.
Police on the scene where a sheriff’s deputy was shot heading to his car in a parking lot in Lancaster, Calif., Aug. 21, 2019.
The district attorney’s office will be responsible for determining any charges against Reinosa, but Wagner said they “could start with false report of an emergency.”
Reinosa will also be fired from the department, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said. Limon said the department was “incredibly disappointed” and that a criminal investigation has been launched.
“There were several things that were curious,” Wegener said. “There was no ballistic evidence in the parking lot at all. No bullet was recovered. … There were many things that didn’t add up.”
Authorities also reviewed surveillance footage and spoke to witnesses, which did not corroborate Reinosa’s story.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris held an emotional press conference the day of the shooting in which he said, “The only reason that deputy is alive is because he had his vest on.”
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