Death penalty sought for suspected Palm Springs cop killer, officials say

Authorities said John Felix (right) shot and killed Palm Springs officers Jose Vega and Lesley Zerebny on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (KABC)

The death penalty will be sought for a man suspected of shooting and killing two officers in Palm Springs, according to officials.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday that prosecutors would seek the death penalty against 26-year-old John Felix.

Authorities said Felix shot and killed officers Jose "Gil" Vega and Lesley Zerebny after they responded to a family disturbance call at a Palm Springs home on Oct. 8.

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A memorial service was held for fallen Palm Springs officers Jose Vega and Lesley Zerebny.


At a press conference on Oct. 12, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said Felix ambushed the officers and intended to kill them.

"This individual wanted to kill police officers. He armed himself with a weapon to kill police officers. He put on a vest so that he would be protected, so that he could kill police officers," Hestrin said. "That's the motive. He wanted to gun down police officers because they wore the uniform."

Felix was charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances, three counts of attempted murder, unlawfully possessing an assault weapon, unlawfully possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony, unlawfully possessing ammunition after being convicted of a felony and possessing stolen weapons.

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Vega, 63, was a 35-year veteran at the police department and was due to retire in December. Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes said Vega had been working overtime on an unscheduled shift. Vega was also married and a father of eight.

Zerebny, 27, had been with the department for about 18 months. Reyes said she had given birth to a child about four months ago and had just returned to work. She was married to a Riverside County sheriff's deputy.

City News Service contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
newsofficer-involved shootingpolice shootingpolice officer shotofficer killeddeath penaltyshootinggun violencePalm SpringsRiverside County
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