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Shooter at large after LA deputy wounded at sheriff’s station

Updated August 21, 2019 - 6:57 pm

LOS ANGELES — Investigators believe a gunshot that wounded a deputy outside a Los Angeles County sheriff’s station on Wednesday was fired from a nearby building complex that provides mental health services and low income housing, authorities said.

Deputies searched for the shooter inside the block-long, four-story structure with many windows that overlook the sheriff’s facility in downtown Lancaster, a desert city of about 160,000 people north of Los Angeles.

The city’s mayor, R. Rex Parris, said the area was locked down and there was no threat to the general public.

The deputy was wearing a ballistic vest and standing near a helipad in the parking lot when he was shot once, Parris said. The vest deflected the bullet into the shoulder of the deputy, who was alert and expected to recover, the mayor said.

It appears the shooting was a random act, Parris told reporters at an evening news conference.

“It was not targeted on this specific deputy,” he said. “It was, any deputy would do.”

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the deputy was hospitalized in stable condition.

“We have set up containment on a nearby building, and we are going through all our tactical steps right now,” Villanueva said.

Officials believed the shooter was inside the complex that’s home to Mental Health America, Antelope Valley Enrichment Services. The nonprofit group partners with the county to provide housing certificates and care to people with mental health issues, according to its website.

Arbor Fields, an apartment building at the site, includes 100 residential units for low- to moderate-income people, the website said.

The nonprofit said several housing units are “designated specifically for individuals with disabilities … who are ready for independent living.”

A perimeter was set up as deputies used binoculars to determine where the gunfire came from after the shooting shortly before 3 p.m.

Deputies cleared other nearby buildings, including a library. Authorities urged residents to avoid the neighborhood.

Metrolink train service was halted in the area.

The sheriff’s station is surrounded by shops and restaurants in a downtown area of the city in the Mojave Desert about 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Associated Press writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed.

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