John Felix: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

john felix

John Felix. (Riverside Sheriff)

An admitted gang member with a violent criminal history is accused of gunning down two Palm Springs police officers, including a young mother and a veteran officer who was a father of eight.

John Hernandez Felix, 26, of Palm Springs, is accused in the slayings that also left another officer injured but expected to survive. There were reports that Felix allegedly might have specifically set out to kill police officers.

The mass shooting of law enforcement officers has brought together the Palm Springs community and led to heartbreaking scenes in which the officers’ flag-draped caskets were carried away by their colleagues.

Tributes and flowers festooned the outside of the police headquarters building.

The Desert Sun identified the slain officers as Lesley Zerebny and Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega.

“I am awake in a nightmare right now,” said Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes, according to ABC 7.

Felix, 26, was captured at 1 a.m. Sunday morning after a massive manhunt, said The Los Angeles Times. The shooting occurred the afternoon of October 8.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Felix Has a Violent Criminal History & Was Accused of an Attempted ‘Gangland Assassination,’ Records Show

According to the Los Angeles Times, Felix has a criminal record.

He was charged in 2009 with attempted murder but convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in a case in which prosecutors accused him of “being a member of a criminal gang,” said the newspaper, adding that he was sentenced to prison (KTLA says for four years). Three years ago, he was accused of resisting arrest and pleaded guilty to malicious noise, said The Times.

The Desert Sun newspaper reported that the 2009 charge was an “attempted gangland assassination.” The victim was shot but lived, and Felix admitted his gang ties, said the newspaper, after a review of court records.

The Desert Sun newspaper reported that two of the officers had died. However, The Los Angeles Times said two of the officers were “gravely injured” and one might not survive. Tragically, they both then died, although the third officer shot survived.

One witness reported seeing a person, likely the female officer, lying motionless on the ground, said The New York Daily News.

The mass shooting comes after unrest in major American cities over police shootings of African-American men, including in El Cajon and Los Angeles, California, over the past month. The shooting of police officers also comes just months after police officers were ambushed and murdered in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen was murdered October 5, and an officer in St. Louis County, Blake Snyder, was slain the following day. Snyder’s last Facebook post was a memorial to a murdered Memphis officer who held a sign reading, “I matter.”

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2. Zerebny Was Married to a Sheriff’s Deputy With Whom She Had an Infant & Vega Was Working Overtime, Reports Said

According to The Desert Sun, Officer Zerebny, 27, was the mother of a 4-month-old baby. The newspaper said that Vega was a 35-year veteran who was supposed to retire in December and was working overtime when he died.

A Go Fund Me site has been set up to help Zerebny’s husband, Zack, and their child. It says she had only worked for the Police Department for 18 months.

Zack Zerebny is a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy, said ABC 7. A baby registry for Zack and Lesley is still online.

ABC 7 said Zerebny had just returned to work after having her child.

Zack Zerebny, Lesley Zerebny

Zack Zerebny’s profile picture. (Facebook)

In contrast, Vega was due to retire in December and had been on the force for decades, said The Desert Sun. According to CNN, Vega was the father of eight children. The police chief said in an emotional news conference: “Here he is, 35 years in, still pushing a patrol car for our community to make it better. On a day he wasn’t even designed to work.”

He had already submitted the paperwork for retirement, said CNN.

“Three officers shot. Condition unknown,” read the initial terse message posted on social media by the Palm Springs Police Department.

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3. There Were Reports the Suspect ‘Wanted to Shoot Police’ & One Witness Heard 100 Shots

A neighbor reported that the suspect allegedly “wanted to shoot police,” according to a Twitter report from Jeff Nguyen, a KCAL9 and CBS2 reporter.

The suspect’s father said he had mental health issues and allegedly wanted to shoot police officers, other news reports also said.

The Desert Sun also reported the neighbor’s account, saying, “Felix’s goal may have been to kill the officers all along.”

Police had not commented on these reports or revealed a motive. ABC 7 reported that a witness “said he heard at least 100 shots erupt and saw three to four officers attempting to revive an officer.”

According to The Desert Sun, “Witnesses said they heard between 10 and 20 gunshots from what sounded like machine guns.”

4. The Police Officers Were Responding to a Family Disturbance Call

CBS News reported that officers were responding to a family disturbance call at the time of the shooting.

According to The New York Post, police alleged that “the officers were talking calmly to the man, trying to resolve things when he suddenly opened fire on them.”

The official law enforcement press release says, “Four Palm Springs officers arrived and attempted to have a male step out of the residence. During this initial contact, officers were met with gunfire through the closed front door and an officer involved shooting occurred. During the exchange of gunfire, three officers were injured.”

The argument was between a father and son, said The Los Angeles Times.

ABC 7 said the man allegedly wouldn’t open the door when officers responded, “threatening to shoot them.”

The suspect’s mother had called police to say her adult son was causing a disturbance, said KTLA.

5. Felix Was Captured After a 12-Hour Search & Manhunt

The Los Angeles Times said the scene remained active well into the evening, with the suspect at large and SWAT teams combing the area.

The New York Post said it was possible the suspect was still in the house where the domestic call originated from, but that was unclear.

Police had deployed a robot at the scene on Saturday evening, and flashbangs were heard. Around 1 a.m., Felix was captured alive. ABC 7 said the robot “breached” the door, and Felix was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Felix has been booked on two counts of murder, reports NBC.

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  1. he looks high on something, which may’ve been the source of his ‘mental illness’. in any case, this is obv and undeniable the result of two things; the blm mov, and rampant illegal immigration…

  2. There was a time when cop killers were hated by all. It helped prevent our protectors from being unable to protect us.

  3. He should be executed, while being held on murder charges, by another inmate. Hopefully wee’ll be reading that headline in the next week or so. Rot in hell, Felix, you gutless P.O.S.

    • Tyrone and Manigordo. Both of you are unintelligent. This has nothing to do with blm, Obama, or illegal immigration. This has to do with a gang member shooting officers of the law.

      • bs you low info idiot, it had everything to do with the “pigs in a blanket” BLM, Obama ripping open racial tensions by puposidly shouting from the rooftops before the bodies are cold. Starting case in point: Ferguson. Travon was murdered by a white man right? Remember you retarded idiot?

      • Eric Frein from PA might have started a domino effect when He assassinated the State Trooper in the head at the door of the Blooming Grove Police Barracks , seriously wounding another , while changing shifts , should have blown him away instantly

  4. If Hillary is elected we will see more of this. Like obama, she hates cops, loves illegal aliens and muslim. She will let in millions of them.

      • I don’t know who you are or what makes you tick but I do know you are a sick person and I hope you get help as there are many different avenues of help available – AA , Buddhism , work with disabled veterans to get your head out your own poo poo seriously your comments are written proof of the dangers of cross breeding and over population !

      • You are a sick person ! Have some respect – these are people someone’s mother , daughter , sister ! Someone’s husband , grandfather , are you that warped – you are a CREEP

        • i wish you were special
          you’re so fcking special
          but I’m a creep, i’m a weirdo
          what the hell am i doing here…
          you don’t belong here…

  5. since there were far fewer cops killed in the past four years than in any previous 4 year period going back to ww2, this means that BLM protects cops. i/m sure you can’t understand that, though.

  6. Let’s turn our thoughts prayers to the children , widow , widower and the lawlessness that seems to be spreading through our country like a virus . Law enforcement puts their lives on the line on a daily basis and the lack of respect they receive is unwarranted on a whole – yes there are isolated cases and they seem to get most of the attention and as a whole we are blessed to have these men and women in blue protect our lives and property – the name calling and blame is wrong . I am not a fan of our current commander and chief but he in no way is responsible for this lawlessness on the contrary he has voiced his outrage for those who commit crimes against Law officers let’s remember to take a moment to think of the empty seat at the dinner table – the young four month old baby that won’t ever see mommy again the 35 year veteran that won’t be able to hold his grandkids and enjoy retirement – a lot of you have no class using this forum to sling mud and your distorted views – God bless you all God bless our police

    • March for what??? Justice was served here. The bottom feeding perp was arrested as well as charged and will likely be prosecuted. Plus you’d have to be blind to miss the outpouring of national support. But then again judging from your post you’re likely delusional.

  7. It’s sad that this has happen especially in Palm Springs a more laid back city.But with all the media coverage of cops killing people already detained.It poses the question were is justice.Forgiveness is truly harder than vengence.Lord please return soon.

  8. You know I agree I don’t belong here and your comments are a perfect example why I don’t . If you are ever in Utah send a message and I would be happy to show you around God bless you

  9. Mental illness is the “Go To” excuse for criminal behavior! Why only 4 years in 2009?? Liberal judge? Why not put back in jail when arrested again 3 years ago? Liberal judge again or poor prosecution? Palm Springs residents should be OUTRAGED that criminals are let back out on streets to kill innocent people and those who protect them!!