"This is a senseless, senseless tragedy that did not need to be," says a California police chief after a gang member paroled earlier this month allegedly killed a relative and a police officer. At least two officers had responded to the scene of a vehicle accident in Whittier around 8:30am Monday and were told the 26-year-old man, with tattoos on his face and neck, had rear-ended another vehicle, authorities tell KTLA. Noting the man's "gang attire," the officers—who were wearing bulletproof vests—ordered him out of his vehicle and were about to pat him down "when he pulled out his gun and … started shooting," a rep for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department tells CNN.
Keith Boyer, a 27-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department, died at the hospital while Patrick Hazel, a three-year veteran, was admitted in stable condition. Neither officer had realized the suspect—who was injured in the gunfight and is in intensive care—had been driving a car stolen from East Los Angeles, where he'd fatally shot his 46-year-old cousin around 5:30am, authorities say, per the Los Angeles Times. The gunman's identity has not been released, nor have details about his prior criminal record. Whittier's police chief says the man was released from jail early because of new laws meant to reduce prison stays, which he says actually make cities less safe. "We need to wake up," he said through tears, describing Boyer as "the best of the best." (Read more California stories.)