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1 LAPD SWAT Officer Killed, Another Critically Wounded in Winnetka Shootout*

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A member of the Los Angeles Police Department's elite SWAT team was shot dead in a gunbattle with a barricaded suspect in the San Fernando Valley this morning.

* UPDATE: The suspect was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police around 7:30 a.m., leaving the death toll at 5 (AP). The Mayor has lowered city flags in honor of the officer killed on duty.

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Randal Simmons, 51, a 27-year veteran officer with the LAPD, became the first officer killed in the line of duty in the 40-year-history of the LAPD's SWAT team. A second veteran officer, James Veenstra, 51, was critically injured in a gun fight that took place after SWAT team members entered a Winnetka residence to capture a male suspect who called authorities to report that he had killed three family members late last night. Veenstra was reportedly shot in the face and was expected to survive in critical but stable condition following surgery, according to First-Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell.

At least 200 officers were surrounding the residence this morning -- near Vanowen Street and Oakdale Avenue -- in the unresolved standoff.

A fire was reported at the scene after 7 a.m. The source of the blaze was not immediately determined. Earlier, SWAT officers fired tear gas and used a battering ram in efforts to apprehend the suspect. A female victim ran from the house while the house was burning and was rescued by police. The suspect was killed in a gunfight with police during the fire.

Agbu High School was shut down for the day, one of numerous closures in the area (LA Times).

Police did not immediately confirm that three civilians had been killed, as the suspect said when he called police last night, but people familiar with the operation told camera crews at the scene that two bodies were inside the residence in addition to the one that could be seen on the front lawn. -- Daily News Crime Blog.

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