A man who shot three Los Angeles police officers in a Lincoln Heights gun battle that left him dead was a suspect in an extortion case, police said Friday.
The Los Angeles Police Department did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation, but said 32-year-old Joseph Magana was a parolee who was “a named suspect for an investigative report for extortion that occurred in Hollenbeck Division.” The division covers Lincoln Heights, along with areas such as Montecito Heights, El Sereno, Boyle Heights and Monterey Hills.
LAPD officers conducting surveillance around 4 p.m. Wednesday spotted the suspect walking in the area near the 3800 block of North Broadway, between Lincoln Park Avenue and Mission Road, and established a perimeter in the area, police said. When they lost sight of him, they requested backup from canine units.
According to police, one of the dogs being used in the search alerted officers to a downstairs unit that appeared to be a converted living space still under construction. Officers surrounded the area and began calling for Magana to surrender. When he failed to comply, officers deployed “a chemical agent” in hopes of flushing him out, police said.
Magana responded by opening fire at police, striking three officers, while police returned fire as the suspect retreated back inside the downstairs unit. The shooting was believed to have occurred at about 6 p.m.
A SWAT team was requested as a standoff ensued, and a robot was ultimately deployed into the unit, where Magana was seen on camera and “appeared to be unresponsive.” SWAT officers entered the unit, determining that the suspect had been struck by gunfire. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, police said.
According to the LAPD, two handguns were recovered at the scene, one of them a 9mm semi-automatic “ghost gun” and a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol. A loaded “extended high-capacity magazine” was also recovered, police said.
A “ghost gun” is one that is generally untraceable, often built from kits or assembled from various parts without serial numbers.
The three wounded officers were treated at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, and two of them were released Thursday night, police said. The third was still hospitalized, but police have indicated that all three officers were expected to recover.
One of the police officers was shot in an arm, another was shot in a leg and the third was shot in the body, but body armor probably deflected the round, according to authorities.
Mayor Karen Bass went to the hospital Wednesday night and spoke with two of the injured officers.
“I deeply appreciate their service, and let them know that their city stands with them,” Bass said at the news conference outside the hospital. “And I very much look forward to their recovery. My heart goes out to the officers’ families who tonight got the phone call, or the knock on the door, that they dread every day that their loved one go on duty.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Magana had a lengthy criminal record. In January, the suspect was charged with battery on a police officer and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person in connection with an incident late last year, The Times reported, citing court records and law enforcement sources.
The shooting of the officers prompted a massive police presence in the Lincoln Heights area, with at least three SWAT Bearcat vehicles at the scene. Residents in the area were evacuated during the standoff. Video from the scene showed officers escorting a resident with a walker from a home near the shooting scene.
Other residents were warned to stay inside their homes with their doors locked.
A citywide tactical alert extending officers’ shifts was issued following the shooting, but it was canceled when the suspect was determined to be dead.
The officers who were shot are all canine unit officers, and all are part of the Metropolitan Division, police said.