A Los Angeles County deputy sheriff who reported being shot twice by a sniper outside of the Lancaster sheriff station last Wednesday now faces criminal charges after investigators have deemed his story to be a hoax, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Deputy Angel Reinosa, 21, triggered a massive manhunt when he called for help Wednesday, claiming he’d been shot by a gunman from a nearby building while crossing the employment parking lot of the Lancaster station, but the search turned up no shooter and no weapon. Rinosa’s fellow cops soon turned suspicious.
Though Reinosa claimed that his bulletproof jacket saved his life when one bullet struck his chest and that another grazed his shoulder, no bullets were found at the scene. Investigators also said the hole in Reinosa’s shirt was too large for the minor wound he claimed to have suffered; in fact, no injuries were found when he was later examined at a hospital.
Reinosa eventually admitted that he had not been shot, and that he had cut two holes in his shirt with a knife.
“We are all appalled and disappointed. We took the deputy at his word at first,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Sunday. “We intend to hold the individual responsible for breaking the law and most importantly for betraying the community.”
He added, “We know the what and how. We don’t know the why.”
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris shed some light on a possible motive, however, telling reporters that Reinosa, a first-year rookie still in the probationary stage of training, “was not advancing through the training program at an adequate pace. There had been a lot of attention on him.”
Parris said Reinosa was scheduled to be transferred to the Lancaster station and that the speculation was that the deputy was unhappy about the pending move.
“Of course we’re all embarrassed,” said Parris. “There’s no doubt about that. At the same time, I’m grateful we don’t have a sniper running around. And I’m really proud of how the Sheriff’s Department handled it. There was no attempt to cover it up.”
Parris initially blamed the shooting on mentally ill people living in a building next door to the police station: “It’s a building filled with people who are being treated for mental illness, of course it’s a concern. Of course it’s insanity to allow such a facility to exist in that particular location. He can’t say it, because the sheriff’s department has to be really politically correct about all this stuff, but let’s be realistic. It’s outrageous to have that population in that location, and thank God we’re not talking about a funeral as a result of it.”
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