By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A gunman opened fire in a Los Angeles police station on Monday night, shooting an officer seven times in the arms and torso as he returned fire, leaving both men badly wounded, Los Angeles Police Department spokesmen said.
The shooter walked into the lobby of the West Traffic Division at about 8 p.m. local time and told two officers at the desk that he had a complaint, then pulled a semi-automatic handgun and fired repeatedly at one of the officers, Los Angeles police officials said on Tuesday.
The officer, a seven-year veteran, fired back, as did his partner, a policewoman with four years on the force, striking the gunman multiple times, police Commander Andrew Smith said.
Smith said the nature of the supposed complaint, and whether or not it was a ruse, remained under investigation.
He said detectives were also looking into any possible connection between Monday night's attack and an unsolved shooting ambush last June outside the Los Angeles police's Wilshire Station a short distance away, although the two incidents did not immediately appear to be related.
Two detectives were wounded in the Wilshire Station incident but survived, and their assailant remained at large, Smith said.
The wounded officer and gunman from Monday night's shooting were taken to the hospital in separate ambulances. The gunman was in critical condition, police said, while the officer was expected to recover from his wounds.
"He (the officer) is in good condition and in great spirits right now," Los Angeles police Lieutenant Andrew Nieman said. The officer's identity was not being released while the investigation was ongoing, he said. His partner was not hurt.
Los Angeles Police Commander Dennis Kato told the City News Service the suspect did not seem to have any identification with him.
"We don't know who he is, where he came from," Kato said. "We don't even have a name on him."
At the time of the incident, the officer who was shot was not wearing a bulletproof vest, which is required only during patrols, Nieman said. A police bomb squad searched the area around the traffic bureau, including the suspect's vehicle, but found no explosives, police said.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)