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Prosecutors To Seek Death Penalty For Killings Of Palm Springs Police Officers

John Felix was wearing body armor when he ambushed two responding police officers and shot them dead, prosecutors allege.

Last updated on October 26, 2016, at 8:15 p.m. ET

Posted on October 12, 2016, at 5:42 p.m. ET

Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the man accused of ambushing and killing two police officers in Palm Springs, California.

The 26-year-old suspected gunman, John Felix, has already been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Palm Springs police officers Jose "Gil" Vega and Lesley Zerebny — who had recently returned from maternity leave — on Oct. 8.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department via A

John Felix

But on Wednesday, Riverside District Attorney Mike said that after meeting with family members of the victims, and after consulting other officials, he had decided to seek the death penalty.

“This was a heinous crime involving the murders of two police officers who were gunned down simply because they were police officers,” he said in a statement. “The victims in this case were responding to a call for service and died in the line of duty protecting our community.”

When the officers arrived in response to a domestic disturbance call, prosectors say, Felix was armed, fortified, and ready.

Officials described it as a ambush, telling reporters that Vega and Zerebny essentially "walked into a trap."

The officers had been trying to convince Felix to surrender, speaking to him through a screen door of the home when Felix opened fire, striking Vega, Zerebny, and a third officer who survived, police said.

Felix fled after the shooting, prompting a lockdown of the neighborhood and a manhunt through the desert town.

Hestrin said Felix was wearing body armor and used armor-piercing bullets in the attack.

Felix also faces charges of lying in wait, attempted murder, and being in possession of stolen property, including an AR-15 rifle he used to shoot the officers.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.