CALIFORNIA—Two Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies were shot by a man as they sat in a patrol car at the Metro Blue Line Station in Compton at around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 12. The gunman approached them and opened fire without warning or provocation, authorities said. Both deputies from the Transit Services Bureau were taken to St. Francis Medical Center in critical condition after suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
They underwent surgery and are alive, according to a 10 p.m. press conference with Sheriff Alex Villanueva. One deputy is a woman, 31, and mother of a 6-year-old boy. The second deputy is male and 24 years old. Both were graduates of Class 437 and sworn in 14 months ago.
The suspect has not been found, and can only be described as a dark-skinned male, reported by one of the victims. Homicide Captain Kent Wegener said the suspect’s current description is “very, very generic,” which was obtained from a brief interview with the victim before transport.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) released a surveillance video of the incident on Twitter, which was captured by an MTA camera just south of the shooting.
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
Wegener completed a ten-minute walkthrough of the scene before addressing the press. According to Wegener, the patrol car was parked adjacent to 101 East Palmer just north of the Blue Line. The suspect approached them from behind, coming from the north, as the deputies were facing southbound in the vehicle.
“He walked along the passenger’s side of the car. He acted as if he was going to walk past the car, and then he made a left turn directly toward the car, raised a pistol, and fired several rounds inside of the vehicle, striking both of the sheriff’s deputies. The suspect then fled on foot northbound from the shooting scene and out of view. The deputies radioed for help. Assisting units from the district responded and transported both those deputies here to St. Francis Medical Center,” Wegener explained further.
The video was also captured through a fisheye lens, which distorts the image. “Height and weight are going to be deceiving. I’d rather go from the eyewitness at this point. Again, it’s all preliminary and we hope to have more soon,” Wegener said.
14 homicide detectives and other investigators on this case are using footage from other cameras in the area and the suspect description to find the shooter.
“This is just a somber reminder that this is a dangerous job. Actions, words, have consequences and our job does not get any easier because people don’t like law enforcement. It’s going to be a challenge day after day. However, the Sheriff’s Department will never be deterred, and keeping our passengers safe on the MTA lines, keeping our communities safe, we are committed to that,” Villanueva said.
“It pisses me off. It dismays me at the same time, and there’s no prettier way to say it,” the sheriff said regarding the shooting.
Donald Trump Jr. shared the surveillance video on social media and wrote “Please pray for these two Sheriff Deputies. Their lives matter!!!,” which was retweeted by President Donald Trump. “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!” President Trump said in a post.
If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this! https://t.co/K3sKh28GjX
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden also had comments:
“This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice. Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished. Jill and I are keeping the deputies and their loved ones in our hearts and praying for a full recovery.”
In a statement released on September 13, Sheriff Villanueva expressed gratitude to Biden and President Trump “for reaching out today and offering their kind words regarding the horrific ambush.”
This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice.
Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished.
Jill and I are keeping the deputies and their loved ones in our hearts and praying for a full recovery. https://t.co/330QfeIUGg
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 13, 2020
On behalf of @LASDHQ, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to both @RealDonaldTrump and @JoeBiden for reaching out today and offering their kind words regarding the horrific ambush which our two brave deputies survived last night. pic.twitter.com/UEYRd7IfmG
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) September 14, 2020
“We’re praying for both officers. We’re praying for their families. We’re hoping to not only receive good news, but also a speedy recovery,” State Assembly member of District 64 Mike Gipson said.
Reggie Jones-Sawyer, State Assembly member of District 59, also shared comments:
“This was an unprovoked, cowardly act. The individual will be caught, and justice will prevail. Our society must not tolerate such acts of violence. […] Tonight we must, as a community, condemn the actions of the perpetrator, but most importantly we must all come together, pray together, for these officers because they are heroes.”
Following the shooting, protesters gathered outside the hospital that evening and shouted “we hope they die.” The LASD responded via Twitter and ordered them to not block the emergency entrance and exits.
To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling "We hope they die" referring to 2 LA Sheriff's ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People's lives are at stake when ambulances can't get through.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) September 13, 2020
The LASD Century Sheriff’s Station Watch Commander reported that deputies issued a dispersal order for the unlawful assembly of a group blocking the hospital’s pathways. One adult male and one adult female were later arrested. The male adult protester refused to cooperate, and a struggle occurred during his arrest. Meanwhile, the woman “ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest.”
“The female adult, who was later identified as a member of the press, did not identify herself as press and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person. Both individuals have been arrested for 148 P.C.,” the LASD also stated.
Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.