A deputy mistakenly shot and killed an innocent homeowner during a search for an armed ex-felon who had barricaded himself inside the victim's Pico Rivera house, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said Saturday.
Frank Mendoza was killed Friday night when the parolee allegedly broke into his home in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive and got into a shootout with deputies during an hours-long standoff, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies entered the home in search of the suspected gunman, identified as 24-year-old Cedric Ramirez, and came across Mendoza, officials said.
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"Believing the man was Ramirez, a deputy fired two shots at that man. The man dropped unconscious in the doorway and was subsequently recognized to be one of the residents," said sheriff's Chief Bill McSweeney.
McSweeney said the incident remained under investigation.
Family members said Mendoza was six months away from retirement. The 54-year-old had also been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Mendoza lived at the home for more than 35 years, family members said. He looked forward to retiring from his 30-year career at Unified Grocers and spending time with the eight children he raised at the home.
Mendoza's wife, 60-year-old Lorraine Mendoza, was taken hostage during the standoff.
"From talking to my mother, she was locked in the bathroom, but from looking inside we know that there were gunshots fired through the bathroom," said her son, Jeremy Mendoza.
Deputies pulled Mendoza, who was slumped over in a doorway, from the home while the gunman was still inside holding his wife hostage, McSweeney said.
She was rescued and was unharmed.
Three other people who were inside the house were evacuated before Mendoza was shot, officials said.
The son said the family did not know Ramirez.
Ramirez was wanted on two outstanding felony warrants for being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, sheriff's officials said.
The standoff came to an end early Saturday after Ramirez was shot and killed when deputies attempted to re-enter the house. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials said a gun belonging to Ramirez was recovered there.
McSweeney did not identify the deputy who shot Mendoza, saying only that the deputy "has a very fine record."