For some time, Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, have been rising every morning to deliver the Los Angeles Times to homes in the South Bay area of Southern California.
They deliver the papers in an aqua blue Toyota Tacoma.
Hernandez rides in the back seat handing papers to her daughter who drives the pickup slowly and throws the newspapers on driveways and front walks.
On Thursday morning, they barely escaped with their lives when Los Angeles police somehow mistook them for a renegade ex-cop who had already killed three police officers and reportedly was seeking out others.
The manhunt was for a shaven-headed African American, Christopher Dorner, who was said to be driving a gray Nissan Titan.
LAPD misidentify Christopher Dorner’s truck for Latinas
A group of policemen were guarding the residence of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official thought to be Christopher Dorner’s next target when Carranza and her mother drove into the neighborhood which was on their paper route.
As the women’s truck drove past the house being guarded, police officers fired a hail of bullets into the back of their pickup truck. Police confirm that the gunfire came in two bursts. It began from an officer down the block from the residence being guarded, and the second burst followed when the pickup tried to speed away from the gunfire and toward other officers.
“They felt like it was going on forever,” says Glen T. Jonas, the attorney now representing the women who he says “covered their faces and huddled down” as their truck cabin came under the barrage of bullets.
Only when they stopped shooting did the cops realize their horrendous and near deadly mistake.
Miraculously, the two women survived what was otherwise a killing zone.
The elderly Hernandez was shot twice in her back but is expected to recover. Carranza wasn’t hit but suffered injuries from broken glass.
Pictures of the back of the truck showed at least two dozen bullet holes, but residents believe there were more shots fired.
Jonas says the police officers gave “no commands, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender” before opening fire.
At least seven officers shot at the vehicle, leaving the street pockmarked with bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs.
“How do you mistake two Hispanic women, one who is 71, for a large black male?” says resident Richard Goo, 62, whose entryway to his house showed five bullet holes.
Other residents also say they wanted to know what happened.
The LAPD, meanwhile, faces one of its most embarrassing times—and likely to be one of its costliest when almost certain lawsuits are filed—at one of its most critical moments, as a manhunt for suspected cop killer Christopher Dorner continues.
Police Chief Charlie Beck says he doesn’t doubt the women didn’t hear any verbal commands, but he leaves open the possibility that his officers may have tried to stop their pickup before opening fire.
Beck also says the officers were already on edge and under the circumstances may have made a mistake.
After the investigation, the chief and an oversight board will determine if the shooting was justified or if mistakes warrant either punishment or training.