An investigation was launched, a school was locked down and dozens of officers, including a SWAT team, spent hours looking for an alleged sniper after a rookie deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department claimed he was shot while walking to his car on Wednesday.
But days later, officials revealed the entire episode was a hoax allegedly concocted by the 21-year-old deputy, Angel Reinosa.
“Deputy Reinosa admitted that he was not shot at from the apartment complex area as he had initially claimed,” the department’s homicide bureau captain, Kent Wegener, told reporters on Saturday night. According to NBC, the press conference had been “hastily convened.”
“There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injuries sustained to his shoulder,” Wegener said of Reinosa’s claims.
Reinosa had said he suffered a “graze wound” to the shoulder after he was shot outside the sheriff’s station in Lancaster, California, on Wednesday afternoon. The bullet, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in the aftermath of the alleged attack, was believed to have come from an apartment building across the street.
Parris told reporters that Reinosa’s bulletproof vest had likely saved his life.
“A sniper took a shot at him,” Parris said of the deputy, per the Los Angeles Times. “It is incomprehensible in our city.”
But officials said Reinosa later admitted in a follow-up interview to fabricating the whole story and cutting his own shirt with a knife to make it look like he’d been shot.
Reinosa did not provide a motive for his lies, Wegener said.
Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said the deputy will be relieved of his duties and face a criminal probe.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Limon said at the press conference, KTLA reported. “We expect our deputy sheriffs are held to a higher standard, and unfortunately, in this case, he did not act to that standard.”