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Helicopter-shooting suspect's mom speaks out

April 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A teenage male is charged with opening fire on a police helicopter, forcing it to make an emergency landing. That young man is facing felony charges after hitting the police helicopter with rifle fire. Monday night, the teen's mother spoke out about what set her son off. The pilot of the targeted chopper also talked about the incident Monday.

Police arrested 18-year-old Danny Lopez, after responding to reports of shots being fired. Police said they saw Lopez firing a semi-automatic rifle. A police helicopter was struck by the bullets.

"I was looking at the helicopter and heard like five, six rounds," said one witness. "I just saw a helicopter smoking and it took off to the Van Nuys airport."

The helicopter reportedly landed safely at Van Nuys Airport shortly following the shooting. No injuries were reported but the helicopter was leaking fuel.

After setting up a perimeter, authorities tracked down Lopez at a home along Saticoy Street. Family members inside the home pinned him down and took away his weapon. Officers arrested Lopez without incident.

"They were family members that he was interacting with, making an attempt to try and get him to surrender," said Capt. John Egan from Los Angeles police. "It was explained to me that eventually they saw an opportunity and they were able to subdue him, and to get the weapon out of his hands. Officers who were in position close by were able to take him into custody."

Community residents told authorities that there may have been a second gunman in the area. SWAT officers surrounded an apartment building on the same block where Lopez was arrested.

Officers fired tear gas and searched two apartments but did not find anyone. They called off the operation and residents were able to return to their homes after being evacuated for more than eight hours.

Egan said Lopez's family members were not aware of any alcohol or drug abuse, nor were they aware of any previous mental problems. However, they did tell authorities that he was despondent over the loss of a friend who was recently killed.

Lopez will be charged with attempted murder on a police officer.

Sgt. Steve Robertson, a supervisor with the Glendale Police Department air support unit, says the number of laser incidents is on the rise.

In the last year alone, there have been 14 strikes on Glendale police helicopters.

He said law enforcement has been successful in catching the culprits.


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