It's unclear why the suspect brought only a Glock pistol, not the assault weapon, into the lobby of the West Traffic Division station, Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday during a meeting of the Police Commission. Beck did not elaborate about the weapon found in the car.
The gunman briefly spoke to two officers before he began shooting at them Monday night, authorities said. Despite being wounded, one of the officers was able to return fire and hit the suspect several times.
The officer, a 7-year veteran, was hospitalized in good condition with a bullet wound to the shoulder. Authorities originally said his bulletproof vest took most of the gunfire, but Officer Rosario Herrera said Tuesday that he was not wearing a vest.
The officer believes his life was saved when one of the rounds struck his holstered backup pistol, Beck said.
Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said the officer was in good spirits Tuesday morning, chatting with visitors.
"He's got a big smile on his face," Soboroff said. "And his mom was there and she had a big smile on her face, and tears in her eyes."
The officer's name was not immediately released. The other officer, who also returned fire, was not struck.
The suspect was in critical condition.
Authorities said the shootout began about 8 p.m. after the gunman entered the lobby and approached the two officers who were working at the front desk.
"He engaged in a conversation and then drew a semi-automatic pistol and began shooting," Beck said outside the police station Monday night.
Police shut down a busy street near the station immediately after the shooting, clearing a path for ambulances.
It remained closed well into the night as police investigated, at one point calling in a bomb squad to check out the gunman's car, which was parked nearby. It was cleared by the bomb squad and impounded.
Police said they knew of no motive for the shooting, which occurred in the lobby of the station about 7 miles west of downtown.
Several people were gathered in another part of the building for a neighborhood council meeting when the shots rang out. Nobody else was injured.
Daphne Brogdon, one of the council members, told the Los Angeles Times that when the gunfire began, she dove behind a lectern, trying to shield herself.
"I hid, and everyone else just hit the ground," she said. "Everyone was trying to be really quiet, and the shots continued."
One of her colleagues on the council was next to her.
"We were just holding hands, looking at each other saying, 'Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God,'" Brogdon told the newspaper.