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East Palo Alto officers escape injury when someone opens fire on them

More than 10 shots are fired at police investigating 'celebratory' gunfire

Two East Palo Alto police officers escaped injury when at least one person shot at them early Thursday morning, police said.

The officers were patrolling the area of Oakwood Drive and Palo Verde Avenue near Cesar Chavez Elementary School around 2:15 a.m. when they responded to a report of multiple gunshots fired in the area, according to police.

While searching the area, someone opened fire on the officers, who narrowly escaped being injured.

"The officers heard the bullets whizzing, so they definitely knew the gunfire was coming in their direction," police spokesman Detective Angel Sanchez said.

Police identified the house involved in the incident, located in the 2300 block of Oakwood, after seeing the muzzle flashes coming from the location. More than 10 shots were fired, Sanchez said. Police detained eight people there. All eight were still being held by 8 p.m. Thursday evening.

Police have recovered shell casings, which came from a high-caliber rifle, he said.

Detectives obtained a search warrant and did find evidence connected with the shooting at the residence, but at this point, the weapon involved has not been recovered, he said. Police did find a weapon they are still processing, which was located a few houses down the street on Oakwood, he said.

Sanchez said that it is unusual for people to shoot at the police in East Palo Alto, but given the current social climate, police in general are increasingly becoming targets.

Police were also investigating evidence from five cars and a home that were hit by gunfire on Oakwood and on Palo Verde, he said.

Abigail Flores said her father's car had a rear passenger-side window shot out. The car was parked on the street on New Year's Eve.

"I saw a bullet on the left side" in the car's interior, she said.

The windshield of another car belonging to a person who lives in her family home was shattered. That car was parked in the driveway next to the house and behind a closed gate. It appeared that someone had walked over to the car and stepped on the windshield, she said. A footprint was still evident on the hood.

East Palo Alto police are encouraging anyone who may have information about the shooting to call them at 650-321-1112 or the anonymous tip line at 650-409-6792.

— Sue Dremann and Bay City News

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