By Robert Jablon
LOS ANGELES — Police blasted tear gas into a home Monday and traded gunfire with a man barricaded inside who is suspected of critically wounding an officer during a nightlong standoff.
The man has been holed up in the Sylmar home for more than 12 hours, with police and sheriff's officers in armored vests and helmets surrounding the dwelling.
Police were using a forklift-like machine with an extensible arm to rip open some of the building's second-floor to make the gunman easier to spot, police Lt. Andy Neiman said.
"He fired at officers several time during a 45-minute period," Neiman said by phone as the standoff stretched into the early afternoon. "He obviously couldn't care less about the lives of others."
Officers returned fire at one point, but it was unclear whether they hit the gunman, Neiman said.
The unidentified man had been seen moving throughout the house and used several weapons but officers lost sight of him.
"He could be injured, he could be lying in wait, hiding," Neiman said.
Officer Steven Jenkins was hospitalized in critical but stable condition, and some of his colleagues, including his partner, donated blood to help him.
Jenkins was shot through the jaw and near the collarbone as authorities planned to search the area.
The standoff began Sunday night, after a woman called 911 to report that her husband had beaten her, police said.
She was badly battered, police Chief Charlie Beck said. Neiman said she was treated at the scene for scrapes and bruises to her face and neck.
Because someone was reported injured, firefighters responded and saw the man driving up and down the street, apparently looking for his wife, Neiman said.
The man had locked himself in the home by the time police arrived. Neighbors were evacuated as SWAT officers surrounded the home.
Jenkins was shot at around 2 a.m. Monday.
At around 10 a.m., police fired tear gas into a second-story window but failed to force out the gunman.
No other officers were hurt.
Jenkins is a police dog handler and a 22-year veteran of the Los Angeles police force. A bullet went through his jaw and another struck him near the left collarbone and bored into his chest, causing broken ribs, lung and blood vessel damage, trauma surgeon Bradley Roth said at a news conference at Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills.
He was in critical condition after surgery and will need more operations on his jaw, Roth said.
Patients with such wounds generally survive, but it was too early to predict whether there will be complications, Roth said.
"This tragedy serves as a powerful reminder that the brave men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department put their lives on the line each and every day to maintain peace in our communities," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement.
Jenkins' wife is an LAPD sergeant and his son is also on the force.
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