(Reuters) - The Southern California sheriff’s deputy who made up a story that a sniper shot him in the shoulder has been fired, the Los Angeles County sheriff said on Wednesday.
The shooting hoax perpetrated by the deputy, Angel Reinosa, last Wednesday in Lancaster City sent police SWAT teams hunting for the gunman. By Saturday evening, the officer admitted to investigators he had not been shot as he walked to his car.
“I have taken swift administrative action in the matter,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a news conference on Wednesday. “As of last night, Deputy Angel Reinosa is no longer employed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department or by the county of Los Angeles.”
Villanueva said he could not speculate about why Reinosa fabricated the story in which he claimed he was saved by his ballistic vest. Reinosa later admitted he cut a hole in his uniform using a knife.
“I’m upset that one member’s actions has reflected negatively on a department that has a history of service and heroism,” Villanueva said.
The case will be presented to the district attorney for possible criminal charges, he said.
The deputy’s false claim followed three mass shootings in the United States this month, and several arrests of people threatening mass shootings.
Reinosa’s report had Lancaster, a city of some 170,000 residents, on high alert as heavily armed police hunted for the alleged sniper, who was believed to have opened fire from a nearby apartment complex that caters to the mentally ill.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler