SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — A California police officer who was shot and killed while serving a search warrant was identified Tuesday as a 12-year law enforcement veteran and a current detective in San Luis Obispo.
Detective Luca Benedetti was killed Monday in a shootout in an apartment in the Central Coast city, officials said during a news conference. Benedetti and five other officers had been at the apartment for an investigation into items stolen in a string of late-night commercial burglaries.
Detective Steve Orozco was injured in the shooting, police said. He was released from a hospital and is expected to recover from his wounds.
Police said gunman Edward Zamora Giron had been lying in wait inside the apartment and fired at the officers before shooting and killing himself. He also had wounds sustained in the shootout. Police initially said that he had been killed by officers’ fire.
Officers arrived at the apartment in San Luis Obispo around 5 p.m. to serve the warrant, seeking the stolen property from the commercial burglaries over the past week, said Brian Amoroso, acting chief of the police department.
The officers knocked and announced themselves, Amoroso said, but there was no response from inside the apartment. They forced the door open and found Giron inside.
Giron opened fire and the officers began retreating and shooting back, Amoroso said. Benedetti and Orozco were struck in the gunfire, as was Giron.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Giron had a criminal history involving mostly alcohol, drug and property offenses, but nothing violent. Giron did not have any registered firearms and authorities were not aware of any mental illnesses he may have had, the sheriff said.
Parkinson said authorities later found the stolen property inside the apartment.
Benedetti had worked for the San Luis Obispo Police Department since 2012, after serving at the Atascadero Police Department for four years. He was a member of the regional SWAT team. The 37-year-old is survived by his wife and two young children.
“This is a tragedy beyond measure for all of those who serve and care about our community,” City Manager Derek Johnson said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to the family. We are devastated by this loss.”
Victoria Torres, 21, told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that she was upstairs in her bedroom when she heard “a very loud knocking” at an apartment across from her.
“I don’t know if it was the police or what,” she said. “I always hear noises here so I didn’t think anything of it until I heard the gunshots.“
She looked out her window and saw a police car then walked downstairs and looked out another window.
She said she saw a man carrying a “big gun” who began shooting from the door of an apartment at officers who were hiding behind their patrol car.
Torres went back upstairs to hide and call 911.
Monica Rochte, 31, told the Tribune that she heard police banging on an apartment door and saying: “’We’re going to come in. We know you’re in there.’”
Rochte said there was yelling and then a bang that she thought might be police knocking down the door, followed by a single shot.
Rochte then heard police yell: “’He has a gun!’” followed by a series of 15 to 20 shots, she said.