Michael Zennie
October 08, 2016 06:47 PM

The two Palm Springs officers killed in a shooting Saturday afternoon have been identified as the mother of a 4-month-old child and a 35-year veteran who was due to retire in December.

Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes choked back tears at a press conference Saturday night as he described how Lesley Zerebny and Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega were shot — along with one other officer — as they responded to a mother calling about her mentally disturbed son.

As of 5:30 p.m. PT, officers are still searching for the suspect, who fled the scene, the Desert Sun reports.

A heavily-armed SWAT officers swarmed the area near Cypress and Del Lago roads shortly after noon and remain on the scene, KMIR-TV reports.

Palm Springs Police Department via AP
Palm Springs Police Department via AP

“They were out there every day with boots on the ground for our community. They gave it all for you,” Reyes said.

Zerebny had recently returned from maternity leave after giving birth. Her child is 4 months old.

Vega had more than three decades on the Palm Springs police force and was working overtime Saturday when he was shot. He was due to retire in two months.

Both officers were taken to a hospital but later died of their wounds. A third officer was also wounded and taken to the hospital. He is alert and helping officers with their investigation, the Desert Sun reports.

“It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire on a few of the guardians of our city,” Reyes said.

When the officers arrived at the home in the 2700 block of Cypress Road, the suspect refused to open the door, the police chief said.

About 10 minutes later, the officers made an emergency request for assistance.

Police have not yet said what sparked the shooting. Officials said the officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call when they were shot.

Rodrigo Peña/AP
Rodrigo Peña/AP
Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun via AP
Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun via AP
Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun via AP
Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun via AP

 

The Desert Sun quoted Frances Serrano as saying that his neighbor came to his house and asked him for help because his son, who has mental issues, had a gun and wanted to kill police.

Witnesses in the area reported hearing 10 to 20 gunshots, according to the newspaper.

 

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