WHITTIER, Calif. -- One Whittier police officer has died and another officer was wounded following a shootout with a "known gang member" Monday morning, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The officer killed was identified Monday afternoon as Keith Boyle, a veteran of the department.The incident, which also left the suspect injured, occurred around 8:30 a.m. in the area of Colima Road and Mar Vista Street in Whittier, the Sheriff's Department said in a news release.
“He was the best of the best,” Whittier Police Department Chief Jeff A. Piper said.
The officers were responding at the time to a report of a three-vehicle traffic collision in the area, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.
While they were investigating, the occupants of one of the involved vehicles told the officers another car involved was parked around the corner on Mar Vista, according to Corina. Investigators believe the suspect's car hit the other two vehicles.
The officers then went over to that vehicle to contact the driver, who was sitting in the car. They made contact with the individual and went to pat him down to check for weapons.
"When they're doing that, that's when he pulls out a gun and he engages them in a gunfight. And that’s when both officers get shot, and the suspect gets shot," Corina said.
It was not known how many shots were fired during the gunbattle.
According to the lieutenant, the car driven by the suspect was allegedly stolen.
“We’re still trying to determine why he shot ... He was in a stolen car, he is a gang member," Corina said.
Authorities have identified the 26-year-old man, but have not named him yet. The suspect is believed to have been released on parole within the past two weeks, though Corina did not know why he had been serving time.
Sky5 aerial video over the scene a short time after the shooting happened showed the driver's side and rear passenger windows of a Whittier police SUV partially shattered.
A sedan directly in front of the SUV had front end damage, and a weapon was visible on top of the car's trunk, the footage showed.
Corina said it appeared the suspect had been armed with a semi-automatic handgun.
The two police officers and the suspect were all initially transported to local hospitals in unknown conditions, the release stated.
At the first news conference, which took place more than two hours after the shooting, Corina confirmed one of the officers struck by gunfire had died.
“It’s extremely tragic," Corina said. "You’ve got a couple officers who just responded to a traffic accident, and they think they’re there to help out people involved in a traffic accident. Next thing they know, they got this guy shooting at them. He shoots both of them and kills one of them.”
Speaking at a second news conference shortly before 2 p.m., Corina told reporters the second officer was in stable condition. The suspect, he added, was in the intensive care unit.
The flag-draped casket of a slain Whittier police officer is saluted outside the Orange County coroner's officer after a procession on Feb. 20, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)
In the afternoon, hundreds of law enforcement officers accompanied the officer’s body in a procession from UC Irvine Medical Center to the Orange County coroner’s office.
After a van holding the officer’s remains arrived at its destination, fellow officers lined up and saluted the flag-draped casket as it was wheeled inside.
The shooting remains under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Those who would like provide a tip anonymously are asked to contact Crime Stoppers by dialing 800-222-8477, or by visiting the website.
KTLA's Jennifer Thang and Melissa Pamer contributed to this story.