Michael Beyda, an off-duty LAPD officer, was leaving his apartment in the Sherman Oaks area with a woman before finding a man breaking into his personal vehicle in an underground garage.
The officer confronted the man, Christopher Camarena, 24, to which he was wearing the officer’s bulletproof vest and in possession of Beyda’s duty gun. The gun was contained in a bag inside the car. The confrontation turned into “what we believe to be a gun battle between the both of them, with the suspect using the officer’s primary duty weapon,” Police Chief Michel Moore said. The officer had his off-duty weapon with him before the shootout started.
The battle moved to a breezeway where the suspect was shot in the shoulder, arm, and leg, causing him to collapse. The officer was shot in the chest and thigh, but he was able to retain his weapon before walking back to his car, collapsing himself. Both individuals survived the gun battle despite being wounded.
Camarena, described as a “transient,” was already arrested twice in the previous three months prior to the shooting and was still facing a pending assault case. Beyda remains in stable condition as of late.
Generally, you should not leave guns in cars unless you enter a place where it would be a federal crime to carry one. If you have to leave your gun in the car, make sure it is properly secured in a lockbox, preferably with a cable cord securely attached to both the safe and a rather immovable object in your car, i.e., wrapped around front seat structures. Sure, a strong cord can be cut, but it is one more barrier a suspect has to face if they really want to take your belongings. Some great portable gun safes are Console Vault, Hornady, and SnapSafe that include a cable cord, among many others.
Know that any of your personal belongings easily accessed in your vehicle has the potential to be taken without counteraction if not properly secured.
The officer is being investigated as well for the lack of complete security for his service weapon.
“OUR EXPECTATION OF OUR PERSONNEL IS THAT THEY LOCK AND SECURE, THAT THEY MAKE EVERY REASONABLE EFFORT TO ENSURE THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THOSE WEAPONS,” MOORE SAID.
If the service weapon is not left in the car in the first place, the suspect most likely only escapes with a bulletproof vest. If the weapon is properly secured, the officer catches the suspect and prevents himself from being shot with his own weapon. Even then, unless he was preparing for work, the officer has to make sure valuable items like said vest and weapon are not left unattended in his car, especially when poorly secured.