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News Release

Friday, March 14, 2003

Media Relations

Officer Involved Shooting Occurs During Bait Car Operation

"Officer Involved Shooting Occurs During Bait Car Operation"


Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred in the area of Maple Avenue and 31st Street, here in the City of Los Angeles.

During the past several weeks, Newton Area has experienced an increase in auto thefts. In an effort to combat the increase in auto thefts, Newton Operations-Support Division Auto Section Detectives with the assistance of Burglary Auto Theft (BAD), and Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) personnel decided to conduct a, "Bait Car" operation.

On Thursday, March 13, 2003, at approximately 6:50 p.m., an undercover officer parked the Bait vehicle in the 200 block of East 31st Street then exited it. Minutes after leaving the vehicle unattended, three male Hispanics, one identified as Raul Varguez, 20 years of age, and two male Hispanic juveniles, 15 years of age, and 14 years of age, entered the Bait vehicle and proceeded to drive east on 31st Street. When the Bait vehicle arrived at Maple Avenue, TRAP detectives activated the remote engine shut-off switch, stopping the vehicle and arming the door locks.

In the interim, BAD/TRAP Detectives, Los Angeles uniformed personnel and a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff responded to the location to take the suspects into custody.

As the detectives arrived at the location, Suspect Varguez and one of the juvenile subjects shattered the left rear passenger window with their feet, exited the vehicle and began fleeing from the scene. Two of the detectives exited their vehicle and fearing an armed confrontation with the suspects was about to occur, they drew their respective service pistols and ordered the suspects to stop. Varguez failed to comply, reached into his front waistband and grasped a dark object. While turning toward one of the detectives, Varguez began to remove the dark object from his waistband. The detective believing Varguez was about to remove a handgun and shoot him, fired one round at Varguez from his .45 caliber service pistol missing him. After a short foot pursuit, Varguez was taken into custody by responding officers. The juvenile surrendered to responding officers and was taken into custody without incident.

In the interim, the second juvenile subject fled west on 31st Street out of the officers’ view. A containment perimeter was established and Metropolitan Division, K-9 units responded and located the juvenile within the perimeter. The juvenile was taken into custody without incident.

No one was injured during the incident. No weapon was recovered on Varguez or at the scene.

Varguez was arrested for Penal Code Section, 487 (d), Grand Theft Auto, the two juvenile subjects were arrested for 602 of the Welfare and Institution Code, Penal Code Section, 487 (d), Grand Theft Auto.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing and is being conducted by Critical Incident Investigation and Robbery Homicide Divisions.

This release was prepared by Officer Renee’ Montoya, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.