Los Angeles CA Jan 30 2011 A Los Angeles police officer who claimed he was shot while patrolling near a high school has been arrested for concocting the whole story.
Authorities said Officer Jeff Stenroos has been arrested on a felony charge of filing a false police report.
Stenroos had said the shooting happened when he accosted a man who was looking into the windows of parked vehicles near the El Camino High School in the San Fernando Valley on January 19.
The reported shooting caused several schools in the area to be put on lock-down for hours while over 300 police officers scoured the area looking for an armed shooter.
A reward for information leading to the arrest of the ‘long-haired gunman’ grew to $100,000 and a sketch of the alleged assailant was released.
But last night Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Stenroos had made the whole story up and was caught out when detectives became suspcious of his tale.
‘The current state of the investigation refutes Stenroos’ initial account of the incident and we are now certain that there is no outstanding suspect in this shooting’, Mr Beck said in a statement.
The Police Chief said detectives had followed up on more than 350 leads and carried out neighbourhood canvasses and distributed ‘countless’ fliers in the search for information leading to the capture of a gunman that had shot one of their own.
The whole ordeal was a great inconvenience to students, teachers and local residents as officers implemented a seven-quare-mile area that was blocked off.
False report: Stenroos had given an artist impression of the gunman who he said had long hair but turned out not to exist
Stenroos had been wearing a bullet protective vest which prevented the bullet from entering his body.
After the shooting occured, Coast Guard Auxiliary member Michael Brodey found Stenroos and used the officer’s radio to call for help and looked after the officer until an ambulance arrived.
Mr Brodey did not see a gunman at the scene.
Stenroos is understood to have suffered bruising to his chest and claimed he was knocked back and hit his head but no other injuries were reported.
But Mr Beck did not elaborate during last night’s press conference on how Stenroos may have got the wound on his chest or whether it was self-inflicted.
‘While I understand the media and the public’s intense interest in this investigation, and the desire for answers to the many questions that will be asked with this new development of the officer’s arrest, I cannot provide more detailed information at this time’, Mr Beck said.
Detectives are still trying to understand how Stenroos managed to pull off the hoax.
Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles School Department called Stenroos a ‘disgrace’ and said: ‘Obviously it’s as shocking to us as it is to anyone else’.
‘The law enforcement community is disgusted’, Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement.
‘While Mr Stenroos is a disgrace to the badge, his individual and dangerous actions should not reflect on the hard-working men and women in law enforcement’