Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds after a suspect reportedly fired multiple rounds into their patrol vehicle and then fled on foot.
The deputies, a 31-year-old mother and 24-year-old man, were parked on East Palmer Street near the Compton Blue Line station when the shooting occurred, and were subsequently taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where both underwent surgery.
“I swore them into office just 14 months ago,” Villanueva said during a press conference. “These are real people doing a tough job, and it just shows the dangers of the job, in the blink of an eye.”
The sheriff’s department shared disturbing video of the incident on Twitter. The gunman is reportedly still at large.
Update: The gunman walked up on the deputies and opened fire without warning or provocation. pic.twitter.com/cBQjyKkoxJ
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) September 13, 2020
The shooting comes amid widespread protests against police brutality. On Saturday, several miles away, upward of 200 peaceful demonstrators marched from 109th Place and Budlong Avenue to the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station on Imperial Highway to protest the August 31 police shooting of 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee, who was riding his bicycle when he was confronted by deputies. Kizzee’s shooting death has inspired near-daily protests and has reinvigorated outrage about the 2018 LASD shooting of 16-year-old Anthony Weber, which also took place in the Westmont neighborhood. Deputies claimed that Weber was armed with a gun, though no gun was found at the scene. His family received a $3.75 million settlement from the county. Deputies with the department also shot and killed security guard Andres Guardado in June.
In August, Compton Mayor Aja Brown called for a state and federal investigation into the LASD’s activities in the city. “They terrorize the community, and then they cover their tracks. It is unacceptable,” Brown said at the time. “We will not take this. I’m calling for Attorney General Javier Becerra to stand up for the Black and brown people of Compton.”
The LASD’s Compton station has also struggled against accusations that its ranks are dominated by a gang called the Executioners, members of which a whistleblower claims sport tattoos with Nazi imagery. Sheriff Villanueva subsequently announced a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding “cliques” and “subgroups” within sheriff’s stations.
On Saturday night, after the deputies were transported to the hospital, tensions flared outside St. Francis Medical Center when a handful of protesters arrived. In a tweet dispatched on Saturday night, the sheriff’s department claimed multiple protesters were chanting “we hope they die.” Video shared on Twitter by LAist reporter Josie Huang—who was subsequently arrested by sheriff’s deputies despite being a member of the media—shows one individual saying something to that effect to officers guarding a hospital entrance.
A tense situation developing in Lynwood as a handful of protesters on sidewalk shout at deputies outside St. Francis medical center where 2 deputies are recovering from surgery after being shot tonight in Compton pic.twitter.com/wwpcnVFvOI
— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) September 13, 2020
As of 9:30 Sunday morning, there hadn’t been an update on the injured deputies’ respective conditions, although they were reportedly still hospitalized.
Meanwhile, local politicians voiced their outrage about the incident. “This was an unprovoked, cowardly act,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer, who represents California’s 59th Assembly District. “The individual will be caught, and justice will prevail.”
Congresswoman Nanette Barragán tweeted: “Prayers for the two Sheriffs Deputies shot near the Blue Line tonight as they fight for their lives. The video is disturbing and shows a coward ambushing the officers. May the suspect be brought to justice.”
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