12/19/2000

California Officer on medical leave
apparently commits suicide in
patrol car behind station house
[La Habra, CA]

PoliceOne Staff Report
(LA HABRA, Calif.) -- A La Habra police officer who had been on medical leave for a year died Sunday, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Officer Brian Wichman, 30, was found in a patrol car behind the police department just before midnight. He had apparently shot himself in the head with a police-issue rifle.

Paramedics rushed Wichman, who was still alive, to Brea Community hospital where he died.

"We're just kind of stunned," Sgt. Mel Ruiz told the Los Angeles Times "It's not something that happens in La Habra too often."

Sources told the Times that foul play had been ruled out, but investigators were still trying to determine what would cause the officer to take his own life. Police would not say if a suicide note had been found.

Investigators are also trying to determine how Wichman got into the patrol car and where he got the rifle.

"He was just a fine representative of the department," Ruiz said.

Wichman is survived by his wife.

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