U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Detectives Larry Lopez and Justin Musella and Deputy Daniel Rosa


On February 12, 2013, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Dispatch received a 911 call from a resident of Big Bear reporting that her husband had been held captive and tied up by a known wanted felon determined to be a former Los Angeles police officer who was wanted for murder. She further reported that the felon fled in an unknown direction in the couple’s maroon Nissan Rogue. The dispatch broadcast the information to all available units in the area, and numerous law enforcement officers from throughout the county began responding to assist in the manhunt. 
A subsequent report came in from a citizen who had been carjacked at gunpoint by a subject wearing a tactical-style vest and carrying a rifle. This citizen also reported that he heard gunshots moments after being carjacked. The gunfire was later determined to be an exchange of gunfire between the escaping felon and Fish and Wildlife Officers.  
When San Bernardino County deputies and Fish and Wildlife Officers arrived at the scene of the carjacking, they discovered the stolen and crashed Nissan Rogue. Several deputies continued their search for the felon, and two deputies discovered fresh tire tracks in the snow leading down the driveway of a nearby cabin. The deputies exited their patrol vehicles a short distance west of the cabin, and additional deputies positioned themselves along the north and south side of the roadway. As deputies discussed the tire impressions, a number of rapid-fire shots came at them from an unknown location. Several deputies took positions of cover behind their patrol vehicles. Detectives Jeremiah MacKay and Alex Collins began running to take cover behind a Dodge Durango, when Detective Collins was struck by gunfire and fell to the ground, near the rear driver’s side corner of the Durango, exposed to the line of fire.

Dispatch was advised that shots were fired, that an officer was down, and that the deputies could not identify exactly where the gunfire was coming from. They noted that the gunfire was much quieter (most likely suppressed) than the return fire from the deputies and was in rapid succession (possibly fully automatic). Since the officers did not know where the assailant was firing from, and in an effort to keep him from advancing on their position, deputies began firing multiple rounds from their mini-14 rifles to the north of their position, which seemed to be the direction of the suppression fire.

During the exchange of gunfire, Detective MacKay was struck in the neck and succumbed to his injuries almost instantly. Shortly thereafter, additional personnel, including Deputy Daniel Rosa and Detectives Justin Musella, Larry Lopez, and Chad Johnson, arrived on the scene. Suppressed gunfire continued to come from a cabin north of their location, and in response, deputies continued to return fire in that direction.  

During the exchange, Detective Musella realized he needed to reposition himself so that he could throw smoke canisters to conceal the downed deputies’ location from the assailant. Detective Musella coordinated with Sergeant John Charbonneau to provide cover fire while the deputy ran across 50 yards of open ground to a building just east of the assailant’s location. Detective Musella successfully took a position at the southwest corner of the building and threw two canisters of smoke. The second canister helped to conceal the positions of the downed deputies.  

At his position to the west, Deputy Rosa saw that smoke canisters had been deployed and decided to throw additional smoke canisters. He retrieved canisters from his unit and deployed one canister, which provided further concealment for the downed deputies. Deputy Rosa and Detective Lopez then took on the responsibility of rescuing fallen Detectives MacKay and Collins, as Detective Johnson provided additional cover fire. Detective Lopez ran to Detective MacKay’s location and dragged him to safety. Deputy Rosa then ran to Detective Collins’ location and dragged him to safety while Detectives Johnson and Lopez provided cover fire. After ensuring that Detectives MacKay and Collins were both safely loaded into a vehicle, Deputy Rosa and Detectives Johnson and Lopez returned to their positions of cover.

Law enforcement personnel then attempted negotiations over a loudspeaker, employed tear gas, and used a demolition vehicle to knock down walls of the cabin. The incident eventually ended when the cabin caught fire after an additional deployment of tear gas and a single gunshot was heard from within the cabin. The body of the assailant was later recovered in the cabin.