LOS ANGELES (MCT) — A Federal Protective Service agent is on administrative leave after firing his gun when a truck full of men who allegedly assaulted pro-Israel protesters Sunday in Westwood tried to get away, an agency official said.
The shooting occurred about 5:20 p.m. outside the Federal building in the 11000 block of Wilshire Boulevard as demonstrators faced off over Israel’s recent offensive against the Gaza Strip, authorities said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said the men were in a truck with a Palestinian flag when a pro-Israel protester grabbed the flag and stepped on it. The men then got out of the truck and confronted the group, and used the wooden sticks holding their flags to hit the demonstrators, said Sgt. Dave Valentine.
“It was a pretty chaotic thing,” he said.
The Federal law enforcement officer who discharged his weapon was attempting to stop the suspects as they fled the scene in their vehicle, said agency spokeswoman Jacqueline C. Yost.
Los Angeles police caught up to the vehicle and arrested the men, identified as Mostadafa Gamaleldin Hafez, Hassan Mustapha Kreidieh, Mohammed Said Elkhatib and Fadi Ali Obeidallah. They were booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. They were expected to be released after posting bail.
One person was hit in the arm but no one was hospitalized. Officials estimated the crowd of demonstrators at 1,800 people.
It was not immediately clear why the weapon was discharged. Sheriff’s officials have confiscated the agent’s weapon as part of their investigation.
With his union representative present, the agent voluntarily gave a statement to sheriff’s investigators looking into the shooting, a Federal Protective Service official said.
The agency will conduct its own use-of-force review separate from the Sheriff’s Department probe.
–Joseph Serna and Matt Stevens
Los Angeles Times
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Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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