Anti-gang officer killed, partner and civilian wounded in surprise attack

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Two anti-gang police officers were raked with gunfire during a late-night patrol, killing one and wounding his partner and a pregnant woman in a nearby house, the police chief said Sunday.

There were no arrests but several people were questioned about the 11 p.m. Saturday attack, police Chief Jerome E. Lance told reporters at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where Officer Daryle Black died at 12:25 a.m. Sunday.

Lance said there were no suspects and he was cautious when asked if was an ambush.

''What we are categorizing it as is our officers were both shot at in an unusual situation,'' Lance said. ''It's difficult to call it an ambush because there were some other factors in this case that I can't reveal at this time that may cause it not to have been specifically an ambush of those officers.''

Black, 33, was not married. His family in Grand Rapids, Mich., was notified of his death, the chief said. A six-year department veteran, Black was a former member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the Marine Corps.

''It's a tough day for all of us,'' said Lance, who choked back tears during the press conference. ''Whenever you lose one it's tough.''

Lance said he wasn't aware of any recent threats against officers.

Black was described as good-natured, polite and one of the 900-officer department's most promising policemen. ''He had a good career ahead of him,'' Sgt. Steve Filippini said.

''It's barbaric,'' Filippini said. ''It stuns all of us. We are out there to protect the public. If people of this caliber will come up and coldbloodedly attack and kill police officers with no provocation, then what would they do to the general citizenry?''

Police, using dogs and a helicopter, fanned out Sunday over a 9-square-block area in the port city of 500,000 residents south of Los Angeles.

Officer Rick Delfin, 41, was in good condition at the hospital. He suffered a leg wound and was hit in the head by fragments.

A 45-year-old woman who is seven months' pregnant was in good condition at another hospital. Lance said she was hit by a bullet that entered her home. Her name was withheld.

An initial report of a second civilian being wounded was erroneous.

The officers came under fire while driving a black-and-white squad car on Lime Avenue.

''They were just driving down the street,'' the chief said.

He would not say whether more than one gunman was involved but he said that ''there were some significant weapons used,'' adding it was ''automatic weapons fire.''

Delfin managed to drive away from the shooting site and radio other officers for help. The two officers did not fire their weapons, Lance said.

Police cordoned off the area and searched the neighborhood.

''We are questioning several people involved in the investigation but we have no suspects in custody at this time,'' Lance said.

The chief said he could not make any connection between the attack and the fatal shooting of a man by a Long Beach police officer on Friday. Billy James Johnson, 30, ran when officers approached a group of men and then pointed a gun at an officer who chased him into an alley, police said.

''Because of the way this happened, and not having any suspects to identify, it's difficult for us to draw any conclusions of that nature,'' Lance said.

Lance acknowledged it was possible the attack was retaliation, ''but I wouldn't want to say that's what happened because we just don't know.''

Investigators took only basic information from the surviving officer.

''We need him to recover and we'll get to him in a day or so when he's gained some strength so that he can give us a better picture of what happened,'' Lance said.


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