Palm Springs gunman sentenced to death for fatally shooting 2 police officers in 2016 ambush

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (KABC) -- A 28-year-old man on Friday was sentenced to death for shooting and killing two Palm Springs police officers with an AR-15 rifle during an ambush and standoff at the gunman's home in 2016.

Judge Anthony Villalobos handed down the sentence after saying that John Hernandez Felix's "attacking officers was planned and calculated."

A jury in May deliberated for less than two hours before recommending that Felix be put to death for murdering rookie Officer Lesley Zerebny, 27, and veteran Officer Jose "Gil" Vega, 63.

Felix was convicted May 20 of two counts of first-degree murder, six counts of attempted murder, unlawful possession of an assault weapon, unlawful weapon possession by a prohibited person and unlawful possession of ammunition. The verdict included a special circumstance allegation of murder of a peace officer and multiple murders, making Felix eligible for the death penalty.

The charges stemmed from a barricade situation and shootout at a home in the 2700 block of Cypress Avenue on Oct. 8, 2016, after police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance.

Felix, who was wearing body armor himself, used armor-piercing ammunition when he opened fire on the officers, prosecutors said.

Vega was killed just months before he was set to retire after nearly 30 years of service. Zerebny had been with the Police Department for 18 months and had just returned to duty following maternity leave, having given birth to a daughter four months earlier.

DEVELOPING: More details will be added to this report as they become available.
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