Suspect arrested in ambush shooting of two LA County deputies
LOS ANGELES – Investigators in California have placed under arrest and charged a man with the shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies this month as they sat in their squad car, authorities announced Wednesday.
Deonte Lee Murray, 36, was charged with attempted murder, according to District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Murray is a resident of the city of Compton, where the shooting occurred, and was arrested two weeks ago for a separate carjacking. His arraignment was expected later Wednesday on charges related to both cases. Prosecutors planned to request bail for $6.15 million.
Capt. Kent Wegener, Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau chief, provided details about the investigation but did not go so far as to specify a motive other than saying, “he obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead.”
The deputies suffered wounds to the head in the Sept. 12 attack and have since been released from the hospital. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that while both are recovering, that they face further reconstructive surgeries and a long road back to good health.
CCTV footage showed a person walking toward the patrol car, parked near a Metro rail station, and firing a handgun through the passenger-side window. The deputies managed to call for help despite their wounds.
The deputies were a 31-year-old woman and 24-year-old man who have not been publicly identified. They graduated together from the sheriff’s academy 14 months ago.
It was determined that the suspect fled in a black Mercedes Benz and that the vehicle was stolen in a Sept. 1 carjacking in which the driver was shot and wounded. A suspect identified in the carjacking photographs was compared to images taken from the ambush. This strengthened the connection to the shooting of the deputies, Wegener said.
Investigators spotted the suspect driving another vehicle on Sept. 15 and tried to stop him. The suspect threw a gun out of the car before abandoning it in the city of Lynwood and fleeing on foot. Murray was ultimately captured and the black Mercedes was found nearby.
Ballistics testing performed on the discarded gun showed it was the same one used in the attack on the deputies, according to Wegener. He observed that the gun held eight rounds, five short of its capacity, and that five rounds had been fired at the deputies.
Authorities said Murray has a criminal history including convictions for the sale and possession of narcotics, possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property, burglary, and terrorist threats. It is believed he is affiliated with a criminal street gang.
After the ambush, a handful of protesters gathered outside the hospital where the deputies were treated and tried to block the emergency room entrance. Videos from the scene recorded protesters shouting expletives at police and at least one yelling “I hope they ... die.”
A Los Angeles police officer was attacked just last Saturday night inside the Harbor Community police station in San Pedro.
The assailant was seen on surveillance video as he shoved the officer to the ground inside the station, pistol-whipped him with his own gun and pointed it at his chest. The officer is said to be recovering from his injuries.