Four People Wearing Federal Agents’ Garb Arrested After Bogus Raid
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Four people were booked for investigation of attempted murder after they allegedly posed as federal agents to stage a phony drug raid and wounded two sheriff’s deputies who came by, authorities said.
Gregory Scott Anderson, 23, Cynthia Lewis, 27, Richard Navarro, 41, and Richard Valles, 23, hometowns unknown, were held without bail after their arrests early Sunday, Deputy Sam Jones said.
The four apparently believed there were narcotics inside a house in Lennox and staged a fake raid in order to steal the drugs, Deputy Willie Miller said. She said they wore blue jumpsuits and black baseball caps bearing the insignia of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
No drugs were immediately found at the house, but a thorough search was held off until a warrant could be obtained.
According to Ms. Miller, deputies sent to the house after a report of a fight found a white Chevrolet Nova with the government plates parked outside. The driver was wearing an ATF type raid suit with a metal badge.
″The driver informed the deputies that a drug raid was in progress,″ she said.
At that moment shots rang out inside the house.
″As the deputies approached to assist, one deputy was hit in the head by pellets fired from inside the house. The deputies returned fire as additional deputies respoded,″ she said.
Seven people eventually emerged from the house, including three wearing the ATF-type jumpsuits, Ms. Miller said.
″A lot of gunfire was exchanged,″ said sheriff’s Lt. Richard N. Walls, as he pointed out the blood on the street and sidewalk where one deputy was hit.
″It seemed like an earthquake. It shook the house up,″ said neighbor Sylvia Bautista, 20. From her vantage point two houses away, she watched as arriving deputies ran for cover. ″It was horrifying,″ she said.
Deputy Wayne Liberator was grazed in the head by a shotgun pellet when he approached the house, and Deputy Andrew Lee, 28, suffered an eye injury when hit by debris from another gunshot, Ms. Miller said.
Four people who had been in the home before the phony raid began were released. Two had suffered head injuries from an apparent pistol-whipping, Jones said. Their names were not revealed.
Deputies believed the government plates on the car had been stolen, Ms. Miller said. Jones said deputies checked with ATF agents and determined no raid had been scheduled.
Jones said it is possible that the phony agents entered the home mistakenly. ″It could very well have been the wrong house,″ he said. ″We just don’t know.″