LOS ANGELES — Investigators believe a gunshot that wounded a deputy outside a Los Angeles County sheriff’s station on Wednesday was fired from a nearby building complex that provides housing to people with mental health issues, authorities said.
Deputy Angel Reinosa, 21, was hit while heading to his car in the employee parking lot of the Lancaster station shortly before 3 p.m., Capt. Todd Weber said.
“He is doing great, thankfully,” Weber said. “The wound was minor and he’s been treated and he’s doing well, in high spirits.” No surgery was needed, he added.
Mayor R. Rex Parris said the deputy was wearing a ballistic vest that deflected the bullet into his shoulder.
Deputies searched for the sniper inside the block-long, four-story structure with many windows that overlook the sheriff’s facility in downtown Lancaster, a desert city of about 160,000 people north of Los Angeles.
Tactical teams were working their way through the building Wednesday night, evacuating some people and having others shelter in place, Weber said.
They had no description of the shooter but believed they could narrow down the area of the building where the attacker might be, Weber said.
Reinosa has been with the Sheriff’s Department for about a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training, Weber said.
The mayor said it appeared that the shooting was a random act.
“It was not targeted on this specific deputy,” he said. “It was, ‘any deputy would do.'”
The apartment building is adjacent to and partners with a nonprofit that provides housing, counseling and other services to people with mental health issues, according to the website for Mental Health America, Antelope Valley Enrichment Services.
The nonprofit said several housing units are “designated specifically for individuals with disabilities … who are ready for independent living.”
But the mayor said the building “caters to, is designed for and allows mentally ill people to live there. That’s all that lives there, is mentally ill people.”
A perimeter was set up as deputies used binoculars to determine where the gunfire came from after the shooting.
Deputies cleared other nearby buildings, including a library. Authorities urged residents to avoid the neighborhood.
Metrolink train service was halted in the area.
The sheriff’s station is surrounded by shops and restaurants in a downtown area of the city in the Mojave Desert about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of downtown Los Angeles.