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Sunday, 8 January 2012

violent felon who allegedly shot a parole officer in the face, prompting a four-hour manhunt in Lake View Terrace

 violent felon who allegedly shot a parole officer in the face, prompting a four-hour manhunt in Lake View Terrace Wednesday triggered a similar standoff with police in Sylmar nearly a decade before.

Steven Hoff, 43, was taken into custody Wednesday after a search that shut down the Foothill (210) Freeway and led authorities to lock down a 3-square-mile area.

Parole agents, working with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies, had been looking for Hoff for an alleged parole violation. As they approached a trailer near the 11000 block of Foothill Boulevard about 1:30 p.m. in search of Hoff, the suspect allegedly fired at one of the agents. The injured parole officer's partner fired back, but the shooter fled.

Shooting suspect Steven Hoff in a May 17, 2011 mug shot.

Hoff was found about 6 p.m. hiding in an empty swimming pool, sniffed out by a K-9 unit dog, authorities said.

"The K-9 bit him and then we went in and handcuffed him and brought him out," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore. "The situation was very volatile, and for a while unknown."

Both Hoff and the injured parole agent, whose name was not released, were hospitalized in serious but stable condition on Thursday. Hoff won't be booked until he is medically ready, Whitmore said.

Hoff was released from prison in January 2011 after after being convicted in San Fernando Courthouse for attempted burglary, according to state and county records. He stopped reporting for parole meetings in July and has been wanted since then, authorities said.

He has been in and out of prison for drug, burglary and weapons convictions beginning in 1989.

Hoff often served half of his sentence because state law allows non-violent criminals -- including those convicted for possession of firearms -- to get double credit for each day behind bars, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Luis Patino said.

The shorter amount of time Hoff served and his release last year are not the result of Gov. Jerry Brown's controversial realignment program, which shifts responsibility for many nonviolent inmates from state prison to county jails, Patino said.

On Wednesday, Hoff was the target of the California Parole Apprehension Team, which was created in 2009 to focus on at-large parolees who pose the greatest risk to public safety, according to the statement.

The manhunt, which led to major freeway delays that spilled over onto surface streets, was similar to a dramatic, nine-hour police standoff in 2002 that ended when police fired tear gas canisters into the Sylmar home where Hoff was barricaded.

At the time, Hoff was wanted for allegedly fatally shooting Diablos motorcycle gang member Richard Dierking in California City. Hoff shot Dierking for "disrespecting" him during his initiation into the notorious gang, authorities said at the time.

However, Hoff went free less than four months after his arrest when charges of first-degree murder and robbery were dismissed, according to Kern County court records. A spokeswoman for the Kern County District Attorney's Office said details of the case were not immediately available.

"This dude has a long and storied history with us," a corrections department spokesman told the Daily News when Hoff was arrested in 2002.

On Thursday, corrections Secretary Matthew Cate said employees were "relieved" that the parole agent who had been shot was recovering after surgery.

"Watching video and pictures of this agent sitting up and giving information to his brother law enforcement officer, even after he had been shot in the face, reminded us all of the valor and determination that our agents exhibit out in the field every day. ...," Cate said in a written statement.

The department has sent a deadly-force investigation team, required under state law, to review the shootings.



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