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Father of Palm Springs shooting suspect John Felix says son acted crazy before shooting cops

October 10, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Father of Palm Springs shooting suspect John Felix says son acted crazy before shooting cops

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The father of John Felix, the purported gang member, who reportedly shot and killed two Palm Springs police officers, said his son “acted crazy” and threatened to kill the cops just moments before he began shooting.

The Associated Press reported that the 26-year-old John Felix was arrested in the early hours on Sunday after a 12-hour standoff with authorities.

The man is accused of fatally shooting officers Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega and Lesley Zerebny – who had returned from maternity leave. One of their co-workers was also hurt in the attack.

Seconds before Felix opened fire on the cops, the scared father of John Felix, had reportedly gone to a neighbor’s house for help.

“My son is inside, and we’re scared, he’s acting crazy,” their neighbor, Frances Serrano, said the father, Santos Felix told her. When it was recommended that they call 911, he replied, “Yeah, he already knows they are coming, and he is going to shoot them.”

The two victims, who were dispatched due to reports of a family disturbance call on Saturday afternoon at the home, were killed just moments after arriving.

Twenty-seven-year-old Zerebny was with the department for about 18 months and just came back from maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter.

Vega, 35, a married father of eight, was a veteran who was planning to retire from the force in December. He was working overtime on Saturday on his day off.

Felix was apprehended and is facing a minimum of two murder charges.

The Riverside DA’s office announced that the man will possibly face the death penalty. However, officials have not determined if they will pursue it.

The Desert Sun reported that Felix has links with criminal groups and served four years behind bars after an unsuccessful gangland assassination back in 2009.

Records indicate that Felix was charged with attempted murder but accepted a plea deal for assault with a firearm and confessed to his gang association.

Reyes noted that law enforcement had had previous altercations with the suspect but declined to provide any details beyond that.

SWAT officers immediately blocked off the neighborhood as cops began evacuating some residents. They informed others to stay inside and keep their doors secured.

Brian Reyes, the Palm Springs Police Chief, tearfully named the two killed officers during an afternoon news conference.

‘This is extremely difficult for me,’ the police chief stated as his voice was cracked. ‘Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers. They go out every day and put their boots on the ground for everybody in this community; they gave it all for you.”

He noted that third officer who was injured in the assault is ‘alert and doing well’ at a nearby hospital.

He revealed that a woman called 911 saying her son was causing a disturbance.

Reyes said that when police reached the scene at 12:18 pm, the suspect declined to open the door and threatened to shoot.

Authorities were attempting to negotiate with John Felix, but he instead began shooting.

Reyes said it’s not currently clear what type of weapon was used and that the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s central homicide unit is in charge of spearheading the probe.

Witnesses reported that they heard approximately 10 to 20 shots from what sounded like a machine gun.

While exiting the emergency room where the officers were taken, Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon stated: “It’s probably the worst day of my life.”

Gerardo Barrera, who was working near the scene at the time of the incident, said: “I saw a person on the ground. Someone kept pumping her chest, but she wasn’t moving.”

“It sounded like fireworks at first. I came out of the house and saw police start to block the roads,” said Juan Garciano.

Later on Saturday evening, grievers placed candles and flowers at a memorial positioned in front of the police station for the officers.

It had been 54 years since a uniformed police officer was murdered in Palm Springs.

“I don’t even remember anything so vicious and cruel,” said Heidi Thompson, a Palm Springs resident. “These officers are responding to a domestic call for somebody in need that they don’t even know. They put their life on the line for us, the community. And they get gunned down? I don’t understand it.”

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