One day after declaring that no one had been shot at the scene of a house fire in Paramount, the sheriff’s department announced Friday that an arson suspect battling deputies with his father’s metal walker had indeed been wounded, likely by a deputy.
Officials said the man allegedly tried to take the gun from one of the deputies attempting to subdue him, but no law enforcement officer realized a shot had been fired.
Deputies were still trying to figure out what happened in the wild melee and what motive may have prompted the incident.
The fire was reported at 3:18 p.m. Thursday in the 6500 block of San Luis Street and was knocked down at 3:47 p.m., a Los Angeles County Fire Department inspector said.
The suspect, 32-year-old Rodolfo Martinez, sustained a non-life- threatening buttock wound, according to sheriff’s Lt. John Corina.
“Although it was initially reported and believed that no deputy- involved shooting had occurred, further medical evaluation and investigation throughout the night has revealed that the suspect did sustain a single gunshot wound,” Corina said.
Sheriff’s officials said the suspect lit at least four fires inside the house and threatened responding firefighters by spraying the contents of a fire extinguisher toward them and then throwing it at them. His actions prevented fire crews from entering the home to douse the flames and determine if anyone else was inside.
Arriving deputies saw that the house was on fire and were informed by firefighters that the suspect was refusing to exit and assaulted some of them when they tried to get him away from the fire, Corina said.
When deputies approached the home’s front porch, Martinez allegedly attacked them with a metal walker that belonged to his father, also a resident at the house, Corina said.
The deputies tried “team takedown tactics and less lethal force options,” but the struggle with the suspect continued on the home’s front lawn, where the man was zapped with a Taser, to no effect, Corina said.
“The suspect continued to fight and bit the arm of one of the deputies,” he said. “A deputy reported that during the altercation the suspect grabbed hold of her gun, which was in her holster and violently tried to remove it from her control. The suspect was eventually controlled and apprehended.”
Martinez “remained resistive and assaultive toward emergency services personnel who were trying to help him,” and continued behaving violently toward staff at a hospital where he was taken, Corina alleged.
“It wasn’t until much later in the evening … after the suspect was sedated and treated for injuries sustained during the altercation, that investigators were alerted by medical professionals at the hospital to the fact the suspect had sustained a single, non-life-threatening, gunshot wound to the buttocks area,” Corina said.
“The investigation continued throughout the night and detectives are still trying to determine how the gunshot wound occurred. Preliminary information indicates that an unintentional discharge by one of the deputies at the time of the violent struggle may have caused the wound. It appears at this time that at least one of the deputies had his firearm unholstered in response to the suspect’s attack, which apparently included attempts to disarm a deputy.”
Six deputies who suffered smoke inhalation were treated at a hospital and released. One of them was the bitten deputy, who also was treated for that injury.
No firefighters were injured.
Martinez was booked on suspicion of assault on a peace officer and firefighter, arson and attempting to disarm a peace officer and was being held in lieu of $350,000 bail, Corina said.
The cause of fire is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Arson/Explosives Detail and the shooting by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
— City News Service
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