The public is angry.
Residents of Lancaster are REALLY angry.
The Sheriff's Department says they're 'embarrassed' and 'incredibly disappointed' by the actions of 21-year-old Deputy trainee Angel Reinosa.
Reinosa's call on Wednesday to an emergency dispatcher saying he had been hit by sniper fire in the parking lot of the Lancaster station, led to widespread panic and a manhunt for the culprit.
But in a late night press conference Saturday, the Sheriff's Department acknowledged that Deputy Reinosa confessed to fabricating the story and cutting holes in his shirt and bulletproof vest to confirm his story.
Reinosa has been relieved of his duties and faces a criminal investigation.
But what's coming out now is the fact that Sheriff's Department officials questioned Reinosa's story from the start.
So WHY did it take THREE days for them to confirm the story?
According to the LA Times there were a few things that, right away, pointed to this shooting being a hoax. They included:
- No other 911 calls in the area reporting gunfire
- No bullets or casings found in the parking lot
- The hole in Reinosa's shirt was too large for a bullet
- Reinosa was far too calm in the call to emergency dispatchers
- Doctors who initially checked him out found 'no obvious injury' consistent with a bullet
Despite all of that, Sheriff's Capt. Todd Weber said in a press conference hours after the shooting that the wound was 'minor' and Reinosa was 'doing well'.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva was unapologetic about the response. He said they had no choice but to assume that Reinosa was telling the truth, and that is why there was such a massive response. He told the L.A. Times that by Wednesday night, investigators were focusing on the incident possibly being a hoax, but it was only when investigators spoke to Reinosa on Saturday and presented him with evidence that the shooting didn't really happen, that Reinosa finally admitted to making the entire thing up.
There's no clear motive as to why Reinosa did this, but Lacaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that the Reinosa was having a "difficult time" in his first year in the field.
Hey Mayor Parris, we're sure MOST officers have a difficult time the first year in the field, but they're not all out there making up stories about being shot!
Meanwhile, residents are angry, especially those that lived in the apartment complex where Reinosa said the shots may have come from. Those residents were on lockdown while officers searched the building.
Other Lancaster Sheriff's Department Deputies took to the Lancaster Sheriff's station Facebook to post a message to the public about the situation.