Jose Gilbert ‘Gil’ Vega and Lesley Zerebny, two police officers in Palm Springs, responded to a family disturbance call on October 8.
Who they found when they got there was known gang member John Felix. When asked to open the door to his mother’s home, Felix refused and instead threatened to open fire.
While Vega and Zerebny attempted to negotiate with Felix, he shot them both. Vega and Zerebny died, and another unnamed officer was injured but is now stable.
Jose Gilbert Vega was 63 years old and the father of eight children. He had served on the police force for 35 years and was expected to retire in December. He was not originally scheduled to work on the day he died, but he chose to pick up overtime.
Lesley Zerebny had just returned to work after giving birth to a baby girl four months ago. She was a rookie who had only been on the police force for a year and a half, but she loved helping her community stay safe.
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes gave a press conference and was visibly shaken. “This is extremely difficult for me,” Reyes said through tears. “Today Palm Springs lost two brave officers. They go out every day and put their boots on the ground for everybody in this community, they gave it all for you.”