Accused Palm Springs cop killer has gang ties, prior shooting conviction


The man authorities say shot and killed two Palm Springs police officers was arrested early Sunday morning.

John Felix, 26 of Palm Springs received non-life threatening injuries and was treated at a local hospital, according to KESQ. He will be booked on two counts of murder of a police officer.

Felix will be booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center, located in the city of Riverside, on two counts of murder on a peace officer after two police officers – Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny – were shot at a home on Cypress Road on Saturday afternoon. A third officer was wounded in the shooting.


As the Desert Sun reports, Felix was previously sentenced to four years in prison in an attempted gangland assassination:

Felix and another suspect managed to shoot their target but he didn’t die. Felix was charged with attempted murder, discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and association with a criminal street gang.

Court records don’t provide details of the shooting, but they do show that Felix pleaded down to assault with a firearm and admitted his gang connection. He was given a two year prison sentence for the assault and an additional two years for his gang ties. His prison term would have expired in 2013.

Felix was also convicted of disturbing the peace in 2009, misdemeanor DUI in 2014, and was booked for resisting arrest – a charge that was later dismissed – for an incident at the same home involving police in 2013:

“I told John multiple times to open the door,” wrote Detective Alberto Cantu in a court declaration. “I know that John is a member of a criminal street gang and has been involved in multiple shootings. Due to John’s angry and agitated state, and history of violence, I requested dispatch to have an additional unit respond.”

As backup arrived, Felix opened the door. Cantu grabbed his wrist, planning to search him for weapons, but Felix tried to pull away. Cantu dragged Felix out of the house, then the detective and another officer him down on a bench. They were eventually able to force Felix into handcuffs.

A press conference has been scheduled for 11 am Sunday at which time Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes will provide more details.

Update: 11:55 am: Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin says the charges against Ruiz could lead to the death penalty:

There will be a candlelight vigil tonight at 5 pm in front of the Palm Springs Police Department:

Update: 12:06 pm: