Tag Archives: Law Enforcement

Ambushed While Protecting Us

.jpg photo of man that ambushed Police Officers
John Felix, 26

Murder, Attempted Murder Charges Filed in
Ambush Shootings of Palm Springs Officers

Palm Springs, CA  –  Murder and attempted murder charges were filed Wednesday morning against a man who was armed with an assault rifle when he allegedly opened fire on Palm Springs police officers as they responded to a domestic disturbance call.

Prosecutors announced the charges Wednesday against John Felix, 26.  He was arrested following a standoff after the shooting deaths Saturday of longtime officer Jose “Gil” Gilbert Vega, 63, and a rookie member of the force, 27-year-old Lesley Zerebny.  Other felony charges also were filed, including three attempted murder charges stemming from allegations that the suspect tried to gun down other officers.

One of those three officers suffered a gunshot wound and was released from the hospital earlier this week.

Felix also faces charges of unlawfully possessing an assault weapon, being a felon in possession of an assault weapon, unlawfully possessing ammunition and possessing stolen property — the weapon used in the shooting.

Felix used an assault rifle with armor-piercing rounds to kill the two officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call at the California home of the suspect’s family, authorities said Tuesday. The officers were wearing ballistic vests as required when they are in uniform and on duty.

“This individual wanted to kill police officers,” said Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin.  “He armed himself with a weapon to kill police officers.  He put on a vest, so that he would be protected so that he could kill police officers.  That’s the motive, he wanted to gun down police officers because they wore the uniform.

Felix was prohibited from legally possessing firearms because of a prior felony conviction, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.  Felix served 18 months of a four-year sentence for assault with a gun in connection with a 2009 gang shooting.  He was paroled in 2011, according to state records.

“There’s an element in our society that’s bent on killing police officers because they represent law and order,” Hestrin said.  “I think it’s time that everybody in law enforcement and the public spoke up against that.  It’s time we acknowledge that our police officers are the only thing, only people keeping us safe on the streets.  The kind of sacrifice and commitment they give day in and day out, we ought to be thanking those people patrolling our streets to keep us safe.”

Police officers arriving at the Palm Springs home on Saturday were told by a relative that Felix had a weapon, later determined to be the assault rifle.  Officers spoke with Felix through a metal screen door before he opened fire without warning, the statement said.

Authorities declined to release a 911 recording alerting police about a problem or say who made the call.

The standoff lasted about 12 hours before Feliz was taken into custody outside the home.

The charges could land Felix on death row, but the district attorney said no decision has been reached on what penalty prosecutors plan to seek.

“We go about gathering evidence that’s used in that determination, and that includes everything.  We want to know everything there is to know about this individual — his background, where he grew up, everything,” said Hestrin.  “And so, it’s an exhaustive investigation. So we’re not ready to make that decision, however, I will be making that decision within three weeks.”

In an interview with NBC4 earlier this week, Zerebny’s parents said they would like to seek prosecutors pursue the death penalty.
Arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

Vega was a 35-year veteran of the force who was preparing to retire soon.  Zerebny had been with the department about 18 months and her husband is a sheriff’s deputy.  The couple has a 4-month old daughter.

Zerebny’s father also was a law enforcement veteran who served for 30 years with the California Highway Patrol.  He pinned his daughter’s badge on her uniform at a ceremony when she joined the Palm Springs Police Department.

A public memorial is scheduled for Oct. 18 in the desert resort town of 45,000 people about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.

Palm Springs had not lost an officer in the line of duty since 1962, when Officer Lyle Wayne Larrabee died during a vehicle pursuit. Officer Gale Gene Eldridge was fatally shot Jan. 18, 1961, while investigating an armed robbery.

Backpage.com CEO Arrested In Texas

.jpg photo of ceo arrested for Child Slavery
Carl Ferrer, 55, the CEO of Backpage.com

Arrest of Backpage.com CEO Shows Texas Doesn’t Tolerate Human Trafficking

AUSTIN, TX   –  In his office’s continued effort to combat human trafficking, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced the arrest of Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage.com, a notorious adult website that generates millions of dollars annually from its classified sex ads.

Ferrer, 55, was taken into custody this afternoon on a California arrest warrant after he arrived in Houston on a flight from Amsterdam.  A lengthy joint investigation by the offices of the Texas and California attorneys general uncovered evidence that adult and child sex trafficking victims were forced into prostitution through escort ads that appeared repeatedly on Backpage.

“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Nearly three dozen members of the Texas Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Unit participated in Ferrer’s arrest and the execution of a search warrant on the Dallas headquarters of Backpage, which is considered the largest advertiser of adult escort services in the United States.

Last January, Attorney General Paxton launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime (HTTOC) unit, which works closely with prosecutors around the state to bring human traffickers to justice.  Recently, HTTOC helped the Nueces County district attorney’s office secure a 40-year sentence for the trafficker of a 15-year-old victim.

Texas Stops Another Child Predator

.jpg photo of Child Predator
John David Payne, 37

TX AG’s Criminal Investigations Division Helps Put Child Predator Away for Life

AUSTIN, TX  –  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced the successful conviction of John David Payne, 37, to life in prison for Online Solicitation of a Minor in Montgomery County.

The conviction stems from undercover operations conducted by the Conroe Police Department, the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and testimony from the Texas attorney general’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID).

Payne arranged to meet with a person he thought to be a 14-year-old girl and upon arrival to the meeting location, Montgomery Country Constable Precinct 4 – Special Response Team took Payne into custody.  CID investigators testified during the punishment phase of Payne’s trial that Payne had a pattern of soliciting sex from minors online.  In 2005, CID arrested Payne on charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor after they conducted undercover operations.

The Office of the Attorney General works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.  The Child Exploitation Unit proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.  Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.  For more information on cyber safety, please visit:

The Reason Is You, Because You Care

.jpg photo of man saved by Officer
Columbus Officer James Poole and Christopher Jones meet for the 2nd time, 20 years later.

Man, 24, surprises Ohio cop who saved him
from drowning nearly 20 years ago

COLUMBUS, OH  –  A 24-year-old man burst into tears Friday when he met for the first time the Ohio police officer who saved him from drowning nearly 20 years ago.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Christopher Jones surprised Columbus officer James Poole when he tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he remembered him.

“About 1997, you pulled a 5-year-old out of a swimming pool, saved his life,” Jones said.

“Wow,” Poole said as they embraced.

“I never thought that something I would do 19, 20 years later would come back, and somebody would thank me,” the 43-year-old Poole told the paper.

Jones said he had been underwater for a longtime when Poole rescued him from the bottom of a Columbus swimming pool.  Poole was a rookie cop in 1997.

The reunion took place after Jones saw a photo of Poole on Columbus Police Department’s Facebook last month.

Jones left a comment that said, “I think that’s the Officer Poole who saved my life.”

At the reunion, Poole met Jones’ young daughter.

“Because of you, I’m still here,” Jones told him.  “Because of you this little five-year-old girl is still here.”

Why No CPS Intervention

.jpg photo of abusive mother in viral video
Katrina Kennedy Flores

Mom in viral video of alleged Child Abuse granted supervised visitation

LOCHBOUIE, CO  –  The Weld County mother arrested after a video allegedly showing her abusing her 2-year-old son went viral will be allowed to visit with the young boy.



On Tuesday, a judge granted Katrina Kennedy Flores supervised visitation – in a therapeutic setting.

The video went viral on Facebook in May.

The woman who recorded the 16-minute video said Kennedy Flores hit her 2-year-old son, shook him violently and threatened to kill him.

In the video, shot in April, the toddler could be seen crying and the mother is seen throwing something into a playpen.  Kennedy can be heard accusing the toddler of losing a cellphone charger.

Kennedy was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of child abuse and the judge ordered her to have no contact with her son.

The boy, who isn’t being identified, was placed in the care of Kennedy’s younger half-sister, Nicole.

“I confronted her.  I was like what is wrong with you, like you really did this over a charger?”  Nicole said after she said she watched the video online.

The woman who shot the video has also been charged with child abuse.  She’s accused of not doing anything to stop the alleged abuse.  The woman claimed she cannot walk or move and feels bad that she did not do more.

After the video was posted, viewers shared their outrage in hundreds of Facebook messages, comments and emails.

The video inspired a group of strangers who found each other on Facebook to try to change the punishment for child abuse.  They want child abuse to be a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor.

Kennedy Flores has another pre-trial hearing scheduled in October.