The man suspected of fatally shooting two Palm Springs, California, police officers could face the death penalty, police said Sunday.
John Felix, 27, was taken into custody after he allegedly opened fire on officers who were responding to a family dispute on Cypress Road in the north part of the city on Saturday evening, police said.
The slain officers were Jose Gilbert Vega, 63, a 35-year veteran of the department who was due to retire in December, and Lesley Zerebny, 26, who had recently returned to duty after giving birth to a daughter four months ago. A third officer was wounded and remained hospitalized Sunday, according to authorities.
Felix was also being treated at a local hospital. After the shooting, he had barricaded himself inside of the home officers responded to, and police had to use chemicals to force him out, said Palm Springs Police Department spokesman William Hutchinson. When Felix finally surrendered hours after the shooting, he was wearing body armor, Hutchinson said.
"It was a simple family disturbance and he elected to open fire on a few of the guardians of the city," Palm Springs police chief Bryan Reyes told a news conference Saturday.
"The officers from what I understand were near the front door trying to negotiate with the suspect to just comply."
Felix, who had a criminal record, will be booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on two counts of murder of a police officer, the Palm Springs police department said in a statement. Felix will be eligible for the death penalty, said Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin.