Police exchanged gunfire with a man, wounding him, after he fled from officers who were investigating a reported shooting at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Central Long Beach on Monday, authorities said.
The situation began at around 2 p.m. when officers were called to the scene of a shooting near MLK Park, at 1940 Lemon Ave. The caller said people in the park were shooting at each other, but police couldn’t find any suspects.
When they searched the surrounding area, officers made contact with a man in the 1200 block of Leigh Court, across the street and just north of Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus, Sgt. Rudy Garcia said.
Officers tried to speak with the man on the bicycle, who they believed to have been involved in the earlier shooting, but he took off, Garcia said.
Karen Tejeda said she was with two family members at Jenni Rivera Memorial Park just off Orange Avenue when she heard a police siren and officers yelling at someone to stop from under the Hill Street bridge. She said the man on a bicycle appeared to be trying to get away from them.
As she grabbed her niece and nephew and ducked for cover, Tejeda said, she saw officers chase the bicyclist into an alleyway where he fell off and kept running.
“Something in me told me there was going to be gunshots,” Tejeda said of her quick actions.
While chasing the man, police say they ordered him to stop, but he refused to comply.
The man ran up to Tejeda’s brother, who was gardening outside his nearby house, but the brother pushed the man away, she said.
After the man made it a little further down the block, he shot at officers, who returned fire, she said. When officers fired back, they hit the man in the upper body, authorities said.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Tejeda said of the experience.
Paramedics rushed the man to the hospital where he was in critical but stable condition Tuesday. Authorities identified him as Robert Welch, a 21-year-old from Long Beach. Police also said they found a firearm in the area.
No victims have come forward regarding the first shooting at MLK Park, Garcia said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Long Beach homicide detectives Michael Hubbard and Leticia Gamboa at 562-570-7244.