Los Angeles: A gang member fired on two police officers last night, March 24, 2007, as the officers drove past the suspect and his two companions. One officer returned fire. While no one was injured, all three men were captured, and officers found a .45 caliber handgun.
"It’s hard to say whether the gunman knew his targets were police," said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. "What it demonstrates is the propensity for gang members to attack perceived ‘outsiders’ who venture into claimed territory. Such is the nature of the gang mentality."
Officer Frank Marino, 32, and his partner from the Wilshire Police Station were patrolling near 15th Street and Manhattan Place just after midnight on March 24. They noticed three men walking westbound on the sidewalk as the officers were driving past in the same direction. Brandin Bell, 22, raised a gun and started shooting without any warning.
Officer Marino was able to return fire. Bell’s two companions surrendered quickly, while Bell ran and hid. Police cordoned off the area. A police dog and his handler founded Bell hiding in a nearby carriage house. After Bell surrendered, police found the .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in the building.
Bell was booked on a charge of attempted murder. He is a documented local gang member. His two companions were questioned and released.
Last night’s shooting was the second time this year that a gang member fired on undercover officers. On February 2, a gunman chased after an unmarked police car near Figueroa
and 46th Streets after the two officers merely drove by. Officers returned fire and captured the gunman and the two other men with whom he had been loitering.
Last night also was the sixth time officers have been fired upon this year, on a par with the same period last year. In all six cases, suspects have been apprehended, and all but one the assaults were committed by gang members.
It was the 17th time officers fired at suspects this year, compared to seven officer-involved shootings for the same period last year. Two officers have been wounded by suspects this year.
Officer Marino has over 4 years with the LAPD.