According to sources, homicide detectives were not allowed to attend the parole hearing.
An appeal was filed to stop Pettis’s release and granted by Governor Newsom. The Wenger family was informed on January 30th, 2024.
On June 18th, 1994, Pettis committed the brutal execution style murder of Carson Station Chaplain Bruce Bryan in cold blood and the attempted murder of a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Terry Wenger.
According to witnesses, Pettis, a known gang member was picked up after a bar fight. In most circumstances, Deputy Wenger would have dropped Pettis off at the drunk tank to sober up, but since the Chaplain was on the ride-along, Wenger opted to take Pettis back to the motel where he was residing at the time.
According to Deputy Wenger, Pettis remained highly aggressive in his gestures and speech and recalls Pettis threatening to kill him when he got out of the car. Wenger had heard similar threats before and did not take them seriously. Wenger also remembers Pettis saying, “F… you, and F you too, Bruce!”
When they arrived at the motel, although Pettis was still highly agitated, Deputy Wenger un-handcuffed him.
Deputy Wenger opened the back door of the patrol car to let the Pettis out, he turned to get back in to the car and was “sucker punched” by the suspect. Deputy Wenger fell to the ground and suffered a severe concussion. The suspect then removed Deputy Wenger’s firearm and shot at him point blank range several times towards his face with the clear intention of killing him.
Wenger survived but was critically wounded with the bullet blowing off the side of his face and destroying one of his eyes.
Pettis continued his rage, shooting at the patrol car where Chaplain Bruce Bryan remained in the passenger seat. Bryan got out and ran and Pettis then turned and aimed the weapon at Bryan, who raised his hands, pointed down at the lettering on his windbreaker that read “CHAPLAIN” and said “Im not a cop, I’m a chaplain!” Pettis shot Bryan in the chest just above his bulletproof vest and then shot him in the back of his head. He then ran off.
At the time of the incident, two LAPD teams were serving simultaneous search warrants in the area. The officers heard the shots and contacted each other over the radio, each team thinking the other team was involved in a shootout.
When the teams were assured they were not involved, they converged on the shooting scene, finding the chaplain dead and Wenger, who was shot in the face, still alive.
EMTs were called and Wenger was rushed to the hospital, where they managed to save his life. A containment was set up and Pettis was caught. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The successful block of Pettis’s parole is a temporary win for the Wenger and Bryan families as Pettis’s parole comes up for review again within one year of the Governor’s reversal.