A young Los Angeles County sheriffs deputy made headlines last week after being hit by bullets he claimed came from a nearby apartment building, one hitting his shoulder. This week, many were shocked to learn the deputy fabricated the entire story.
21-year-old Angel Reinosa originally claimed to have been shot while unloading a patrol car in the parking lot outside of his station in Lancaster, California. The “attack” on Reinosa caused mass panic and a large-scale response from law enforcement. Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris reported Reinosa had been shot by a “sniper” and was only alive because of his bulletproof vest. SWAT teams were called in, the apartment building was evacuated, and a massive manhunt was undertaken.
The holes in Reinosa’s story appeared and grew larger as investigators looked into the alleged shooting. There were no 911 calls reporting gunshots in the area, and no bullets were found in the parking lot. Reinosa presented to the hospital with a hole in his shirt that he claimed was due to a bullet, but which investigators noted was too large.
Reinosa confessed to making up the story when confronted with evidence that the shooting never happened. Reinosa’s shoulder had no gunshot injury upon examination at the hospital, and he told investigators he cut the “bullet” holes in his shirt with a knife.
A motive for faking the shooting has yet to be confirmed, but Mayor Parris has stated the deputy was struggling in his first year in the field, and “not advancing through the training program at an adequate pace.”
In a move that surprised many, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva released the details of Reinosa’s made-up shooting immediately after discovering the lie. Sheriff Villanueva expressed that Reinosa will be held responsible for “breaking the law and most importantly for betraying the community.”
Reinosa has been relieved of his duties and returned home. Officials have not confirmed whether the investigation will be turned over to the district attorney’s office or whether Reinosa will face charges. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has reported hundreds of officers responded to the original call, a commuter rail line was shut down, and countless resources were wasted.