02/03/2006

Man used cellphone just before L.A. officer was shot at

Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved 

LAPD detectives are investigating whether a driver used his cellphone to call gang members to the scene of a police stop early Wednesday where gunmen shot up a cruiser with an officer inside.

Ramon Pereyda and Victor Ledezma, who authorities identified as gang members, were later arrested and booked on suspicion of attempted murder.

The driver, who remains at large, allegedly displayed gang signs and yelled at police as he drove his beige Honda Accord down a South Los Angeles street about 2 a.m., authorities said. A 27-year-old officer from the 77th Division followed the car onto the Harbor Freeway and pulled the driver over near the West Slauson Avenue onramp.

As the officer waited for backup, he saw the driver use his cellphone, Lt. Paul Vernon said.

A Toyota Camry came up the onramp and "those inside capped two or three rounds at the officer," Vernon said. "The shots hit the glass and the door frame on either side of the officer.

"Part of our investigation will be to determine if the occupants of both cars knew each other or were working in concert," he said. "If they'll shoot at a cop who can defend him or herself with a gun, they will shoot at anyone."

The Honda driver got away. But the officer, who was joined by other patrol cars, overtook the Toyota. Police recovered a .357 magnum handgun that was allegedly tossed from the Toyota during the chase, Vernon said.

The shooting was the fourth aimed at law enforcement officers this year. The first occurred Jan. 1 on Los Angeles' Eastside. The second, also gang-related, occurred Jan. 9 in the San Fernando Valley and targeted a California Highway Patrol officer. The third, also on the Eastside, occurred Jan. 17. 

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