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Vest saves Calif. officer's life in shootout

The Bakersfield Californian

BAKERSFIELD, Ca. — A fleeing suspect was killed and a Bakersfield police officer wounded during a shootout late Saturday night in the 900 block of Feliz Drive.

The Kern County Coroner’s Office said Leon Anderson Jr., 36, of Bakersfield, died at the scene at around 10:43 p.m.

Wounded in the incident was BPD officer Dennis Eddy, a six-year veteran of the department, according to BPD spokesman Sgt. Greg Terry.

Sunday afternoon, Terry said Eddy was in stable condition having suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot to the right leg and another to his chest. “The gunshot to the chest fortunately did not penetrate his bullet resistant vest,” Terry wrote in a media release.

The incident occurred as Eddy and his partner, Joseph Cooley, a three-year veteran of the force and, like Eddy, a member of BPD’s Special Enforcement Unit, were patrolling the 900 block of Feliz Drive and saw Anderson standing with a group of people. The officers recognized Anderson as a parolee and a suspected gang member, Terry said.

“Anderson is somebody that our department has had numerous prior contacts with,” he said.

When they started to approach him, according to Terry, Anderson ran behind houses and through yards. Additional officers responded, Terry said, and Anderson eventually took cover behind a vehicle.

“He fired multiple shots at officer Eddy,” Terry said.

Besides Eddy and Cooley, Terry said, officer William Caughell a two-year veteran, also fired at Anderson. At this time it is unknown how many shots were fired by Anderson or the officers.

Terry said that, as a result of the incident, the BPD has been receiving threats against officers and is actively investigating these threats.

“This is the third incident since in December where we’ve had an officer shot at,” he said.

On December 5, Terry said, 24-year-old Jimmy Joseph Lopez shot at BPD officer Mike Cottle when Cottle tried to stop him on Columbus Street and University Avenue. Lopez was a suspect in an auto theft and burglary investigation.

On Dec. 13, Terry said, officers were also fired at during a home invasion at Tobago Court in southwest Bakersfield, in which two civilian victims were wounded.

Terry said there were eight officer-involved shootings in 2007.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call Bakersfield Police at 327-7111.

Copyright 2008 The Bakersfield Californian

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