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August 14, 2006
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LAPD officer wounded with assault rifle

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES- A man sprayed a police car with bullets from an assault rifle during a traffic stop, wounding an officer before being shot himself, authorities said Sunday. Two police officers pulled over a small black Honda in the Montecito Heights neighborhood northeast of downtown Los Angeles just after 11 p.m. Saturday.

"Before the officers could even open their doors, a passenger got out and start raking the car with gunfire from an AK-47," said police spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon.

One officer was hit twice in the abdomen through his bulletproof vest, Vernon said, and a third bullet nearly severed his hand. He was in critical condition.

As the second officer stepped out of the car and returned fire, the suspect charged at him but was shot in the leg and dropped his rifle, Vernon said.

The suspect tried to crawl away and was captured moments later on the porch of a nearby house.

The Honda's driver escaped on foot and was caught by police about 90 minutes later.

The police officer who shot the suspect was not hit, but had to have broken glass removed from his face.

"It's a miracle that either officer is alive, with the number of rounds fired," Vernon said. "This is a weapon like guys are facing in Iraq and Lebanon."

The officer who was shot had been on the force for less than two years, and was still in his required probationary period, Vernon said.

The Honda was reported stolen in Montecito Heights in late July, Vernon said. Both men in the car were in their early 20s, he said.

The names of the officers and the suspects were not immediately released.

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