LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man shot and damaged a Los Angeles police helicopter Sunday and forced it to make an emergency landing at a San Fernando Valley airport before he was subdued by family members and arrested, authorities said.
The man was firing shots at random with a rifle early in the morning, then turned his fire toward the responding police helicopter and hit the fuel tank, Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said. The helicopter landed safely at Van Nuys Airport, and no officers were hurt.
“This situation could have easily turned tragic, and we were just fortunate that the aircraft was able to land safely without injury to the officers or the public,” Paysinger told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s ironic that it happened on Easter Sunday. Someone divine was watching over us.”
Danny Anthony Lopez, 18, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, Detective Gus Villanueva told City News Service.
Lopez’s family had confronted and tackled him in the street after he hit the helicopter, allowing police to take him into custody.
Jail records showed Lopez was being held without bail at Van Nuys Jail. Sheriff’s deputies did not know if he had an attorney.
Police conducted a search for more than seven hours and even fired tear gas into an evacuated apartment building after reports of a possible second gunman, but none was found and the search was called off, Villanueva said.
Residents returned to the apartment building after waiting in a nearby school auditorium.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com