By Christopher Weber
LOS ANGELES — Weapons and ammunition were found in the car and home of the man who opened fire with a handgun inside a Los Angeles police station, hitting one officer several times before he was wounded in the ensuing gunbattle, authorities said.
It's unclear why the suspect brought only a Glock pistol into the lobby of the West Traffic Division station, and left an AK-47 behind in the car, Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday during a meeting of the Police Commission.
The gunman said "I have a complaint" before he began shooting at the officers Monday night, Commander Andrew Smith said. Despite one of them being wounded, both officers were able to return fire, hitting the suspect several times.
The officer who was struck, a 7-year veteran, was hospitalized in good condition with injuries including a bullet wound to the shoulder. Authorities originally said his bulletproof vest took most of the gunfire, but Officer Rosario Herrera said Tuesday that he was not wearing a vest.
The officer believes his life was saved when one of the rounds struck his holstered backup pistol, Beck said.
Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said the officer was in good spirits Tuesday morning, chatting with visitors.
"He's got a big smile on his face," Soboroff said. "And his mom was there and she had a big smile on her face, and tears in her eyes."
The officer's name was not immediately released.
The suspect, identified by police as 29-year-old Daniel C. Yealu, was in critical condition.
Officers serving a search warrant at Yealu's west Los Angeles home turned up ammunition and several weapons including two assault rifles, a shotgun and two handguns, said Smith.
Yealu had a license to work as a security guard starting in 2005 and a license to carry a firearm starting in 2007, records showed.
Authorities said the shootout began about 8 p.m. after the gunman entered the lobby and approached the two officers who were working at the front desk.
Police shut down a busy street near the station immediately after the shooting, clearing a path for ambulances.
It remained closed well into the night as police investigated, at one point calling in a bomb squad to check out the gunman's car, which was parked nearby. An AK-47 and ammunition was found in the car, Smith said. It was eventually cleared by the bomb squad and impounded.
Police said they knew of no motive for the shooting, which occurred in the cramped lobby of the station about 7 miles west of downtown. Smith said it was about 25 feet from the lobby's entrance to the front desk.
Several people were gathered in an adjacent room for a neighborhood council meeting when the shots rang out. Nobody else was injured.
Daphne Brogdon, one of the council members, told the Los Angeles Times that when the gunfire began, she dove behind a lectern, trying to shield herself.
"I hid, and everyone else just hit the ground," she said. "Everyone was trying to be really quiet, and the shots continued."
One of her colleagues on the council was next to her.
"We were just holding hands, looking at each other saying, 'Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God,'" Brogdon told the newspaper.
The station was also the site of a shooting last June, when a black-clad assailant shot two detectives in the parking lot in a late-night ambush, leaving both with minor injuries.
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press