LBPD Chief Batts Thanks Multiple Agencies For Response When Two Officers Shot; Indicates LBPD Staffing Was Tapped Out In Immediate Response To Shooting, Appreciates Sheriff's Assistance, Defers Question On Checking Immigration Status Of Future Arrestees
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(Dec. 29, 2006) -- LB Police Chief Anthony Batts indicated that LBPD staff was tapped out in the immediate afternoon-evening response and search for the gunman who shot two LB police officers (traffic stop, 6th St/Long Beach Blvd) and opened fire on a second police unit (as he fled past Broadway/LB Blvd) on Dec. 22.
At a Dec. 28 media event, Chief Batts publicly thanked the L.A. County Sheriffs Dept. for its response and assistance, credited multiple agencies (local, county, state and federal) for their roles, read a thank-you letter from the family of the wounded officers (text below), announced an address for donations to the officers' families (below)...and deferred a question on checking the immigration status of future LB arrestees.
On Dec. 23, Chief Batts indicated that suspect Gallegos had been charged with and convicted of committing multiple area crimes over a period spanning several years...and had been deported at least once and perhaps other times. LBReport.com then followed-up and reported that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's regional office spokesperson said suspect Gallegos had in fact been deported three times.
On December 28, a reporter for another outlet asked Chief Batts why suspect Gallegos was still in the area after being deported three times...and asked if LBPD would be pursuing an agreement with federal officials on checking the immigration status of arrestees. Chief Batts replied that he didn't think the news conference was the proper place to get involved in discussing political issues. [Long Beach's Police Chief is chosen by the City Manager; the City Manager is hired by the elected City Council..and city policies are set by the City Council.]
On Dec. 27, Chief Batts described Gallegos as a "known gang member" and read aloud his tattoos which included "LONGO," the letters "B.V.", a man wearing a sombrero...and another tattoo (around his belly button) with the phrase "Confessing A Feeling."
Chief Batts indicated that Officer Abe Yap and Officer Roy Wade, Jr. were grateful to everyone who'd come to their assistance, from LBPD officers to doctors, local officials and members of the public. Chief Batts read a letter from the Yap family:
Our family would like to thank all of the task force agencies and offices who worked so hard to bring the suspect to justice. We would also like to thank all the doctors and nurses who have been involved in Abe's treatment and care. Our family will be forever grateful for all the support and personal sacrifice you have shown for us. To all the relatives, friends, public officials and citizens who have helped us get through this with your well wishes, prayers and love, thank you.
The Yap Family
Officer Yap sustained a gun shot wound to his face, entering at the lip line and exiting his cheek. He's 35 years old, has a wife and child (the latter with a medical condition that involved recent hospitalization).
Officer Wade sustained multiple gun shot wounds to his upper chest and neck. He graduated LB's Police Academy three weeks earlier, and has a wife.
Both officers are reported in critical but stable condition.
At the event, an address and payment information were provided for donations to Officers Yap and Wade:
Widows and Orphans Fund
Long Beach Police Officers Association
2865 Temple Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90755
Chief Batts said he was personally proud to see LBPD officers streaming into work outside of their normal work hours to assist in the wake of the shooting. He also thanked the LB Police Officers Ass'n [police union] for its assistance.
Among those attending the Dec. 28 press event were representatives of the LB Mayor's office (including Chief of Staff Becki Ames), L.A. County District Attorney's office (Steve Cooley attending and speaking) the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept., FBI, CA Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, U.S. Marshals Office, L.A. County Probation, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Santa Ana Police Dept. (including SA Police Chief Paul Walters). Among other VIPs spotted at the event were LB Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal and Councilman Val Lerch and City Prosecutor Tom Reeves.
Suspect Gallegos was tracked to Santa Ana via a successful surveillance conducted by LBPD. Santa Ana police responded...and Gallegos reportedly opened fire on them in a strip mall in the 200 block of E. Warner Ave, prompting an exchange of gunfire which the suspect did not survive.
Chief Batts said within minutes of learning of the development, he went to the hospital and to inform Officers Abe Yap and Roy Wade, Jr. personally that Gallegos had been shot and likely killed in the Santa Ana shootout.
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