LA County sheriff disputes claims of Lynwood carjacking suspect's connection to Compton deputies shooting

Despite some reports circulating online implying that an armed carjacking suspect arrested in Lynwood could be the wanted gunman in an attack on two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in Compton, authorities insist no suspects have been identified.
COMPTON, Calif. (KABC) -- Despite some reports circulating online implying that an armed carjacking suspect arrested Tuesday in Lynwood could be the wanted gunman in an attack on two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in Compton over the past weekend, authorities insist no suspects have been identified.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva was asked why that suspect -- Deonte Murray, 36 -- was being held on $2 million bail, and if he was connected to the deputies' shooting. The sheriff did not directly address the latter part of the question.

"(He) was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, and carjacking,'' Villanueva said. And he actually shot the victim with an AR-15, and stole the vehicle. So that, itself, is going to necessitate the higher bail. And he is (an) extremely dangerous person, and thankfully, he was arrested without incident -- without, at least, anybody being injured."

Sheriff Villanueva discusses search for shooter who ambushed deputies in Compton
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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva provides Eyewitness News with the latest details on the search for the gunman who wounded two deputies in Compton.



The sheriff's department issued a statement early Monday saying the information circulating online "is ERRONEOUS information and there are no named or wanted suspects at this time.''

"We continue doing a very wide-scale search and investigation on who is responsible for the ambush, and we're chasing all leads,'' Villanueva said. "And right now, it's a lot of work we have to do; and we're not taking anything for granted.''

Meanwhile, Villanueva said Tuesday investigators have "promising leads'' in the search for the gunman who opened fire on the deputies as they sat in a patrol SUV at a Compton Metro station on Saturday.

"We're on the right path,'' Villanueva said. He also expressed hope to have something to announce soon.

Investigators were "working day and night to identify and arrest these cowards,'' Villanueva said, referencing the gunman and a possible getaway driver.

DEPUTIES RECOVERING



A group gathered Thursday morning for a prayer vigil for both deputies outside of St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. The 24-year-old male deputy wounded in the shooting has been released while the 31-year-old female deputy remains in the hospital.

"He has a long road ahead for recovery. But he's not alone. We, as a community, are in this together,'' Villanueva wrote on Twitter Wednesday. An update on the wounded female deputy was not released.

RELATED: Compton shooting: 1 of 2 wounded sheriff's deputies released from hospital, Villanueva says

"We're trying to see if we can transfer them to a place where they can get long-term care, but we obviously have concerns about the COVID and security concerns, so that's going to be an ongoing issue that we are going to have to address,'' Villanueva said earlier in the day.

Their names have not been released, but both were sworn in just 14 months ago.

The prognosis for both deputies is good but they have a long road to recovery.

"Fortunately, they were spared any injury to a vital organ that would have jeopardized their life immediately,'' Villanueva told KNX-AM on Monday.

Shortly after the shooting, the female deputy can be seen on surveillance video struggling to place a tourniquet on her partner even as she herself is bleeding from gunshot wounds.

"She helped the other wounded deputy, got on the radio, provided medical care, got him to a place of safety 'cause they didn't know if there was another attack coming their way," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

RELATED: Video shows wounded deputy struggle to aid partner after Compton shooting
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As a manhunt continues for the gunman who ambushed two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in Compton, new surveillance footage shows how one deputy struggled to help her partner even as she was bleeding from her own wounds.



A GoFundMe page set up for the two deputies exceeded its original goal of raising $400,000. As of 10:20 p.m. Thursday, more than 9,400 people had donated nearly $658,000 toward the page's new goal of $750,000. The page, started by sheriff's detective Keegan McInnis, can be found here.

REWARD OFFERS



The reward leading to the shooter has swelled to $640,000.

Villanueva challenged Lakers star LeBron James, who has been outspoken on social-justice issues and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to match the reward offer.

RELATED: Sheriff Villanueva challenges LeBron James to match reward money for Compton shooting gunman
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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is challenging LeBron James to match the reward money being offered in the hopes of arresting the gunman who ambushed two deputies in Compton over the weekend.



Villanueva said Tuesday that he singled out James because of the player's previous comments after last month's police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"He symbolized some of the comments we've heard from politicians, elected leaders, civic leaders, where they're making a broad-brush condemnation of an entire profession,'' Villanueva said.

"I just think we need to put down the broad brushes and re-focus on all the people accountable when they cross the line, as we are doing with law enforcement across the entire nation.''

James has not responded to Villanueva's comments.

The Board of Supervisors formally ratified a $100,000 reward offer Tuesday. Villanueva, speaking at the outset of the board meeting, said the reward had "now been matched and exceeded by private donors.''

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Monday afternoon it was adding $25,000 to the reward, noting that the deputies were working for Metro's Transit Services Bureau at the time of the shooting.

The League of United Latin American Citizens added another $25,000 to the reward money, and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents the department's deputies, announced Tuesday night that it was donating $75,000.

Members of the county board said cities including Palmdale, Cerritos, Lakewood and Industry had also added to the reward, though the totals were not immediately available.

Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas authored the reward motion.

Barger said she had visited St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood and saw deputies in the waiting room who were "deflated but not deterred.'' Then she went to the command post.

"I looked around. There were about 80 deputies who mirrored the communities that they are working in. These are people that, for the most part, are from these communities who want to protect their communities. So while this ambush truly was heinous, what it has shown me is that we have people that take an oath to protect our communities even under the threat of maybe not coming home to their families,'' Barger said, her voice shaking.

"And so I hope that we will remember that and hold them and their families and each and every single sheriff's deputy, each and every law enforcement (officer)... in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.''

Ridley-Thomas urged those who know the gunman to contact the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be left for L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or at http://lacrimestoppers.org.

"We simply cannot tolerate this kind of lawlessness,'' he said.

Supervisor Janice Hahn also pushed anyone with information to come forward.

"Somebody knows who this person is, they know their name and we're hoping that this will bring that information forward so we can bring this perpetrator to justice,'' Hahn said.

SHOOTING AND AFTERMATH



The attack occurred at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Metro Blue Line station at Willowbrook Avenue and Palmer Street. Surveillance video shows the suspect approaching the window on the passenger's side and firing several times at close range. The suspect then ran off on foot. One deputy was seen emerging from the passenger side and stumbling around on foot for several seconds before the video ends.

Audio captures a frantic call for help from one of the deputies shortly after the shooting.

"I've been shot. Send help," one of the deputies is heard saying in the radio call.
Shortly after the shooting, the female deputy can be seen on surveillance video struggling to place a tourniquet on her partner even as she herself is bleeding from gunshot wounds.

"She helped the other wounded deputy, got on the radio, provided medical care, got him to a place of safety 'cause they didn't know if there was another attack coming their way," Villanueva said.

The shooter was described by the sheriff's department as a "male Black, 28- to 30-years-old, wearing dark clothing, who was last seen heading northbound on Willowbrook Avenue in a black four-door sedan.''

Relatives of the injured deputies -- including the husband of the female deputy and the girlfriend and parents of the male deputy -- were at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where they're being treated.

Villanueva on Monday again lashed out at protesters who showed up at the hospital Saturday night and shouted anti-law-enforcement chants, expressing hope that the deputies die. One witness told ABC7 some protesters tried to force their way into the emergency room while shouting death to the police.''

"They were chanting that they wish the deputies died,'' Villanueva told KNX Monday. And I don't even know how to be begin to describe that, other than repulsive, reprehensible.''

More video surfaced Monday showing some bystanders at the Metro station taking pictures or video of the wounded deputies after the shooting, and at least in one case, laughing while failing to offer any kind of aid.

WATCH: Protesters show up to hospital after Compton deputy shooting
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A small crowd of demonstrators gathered outside a Lywood hospital Saturday night where two L.A. County Sheriff's deputies are being treated. Shortly after, a local radio reporter was arrested during a scuffle with deputies.



County Supervisor Kathryn Barger didn't mince words Monday about her disgust with the hospital protests. She suggested the shooting was the culmination of "anti-law-enforcement rhetoric expressed by many elected officials, community leaders and others,'' leading to the creation of a toxic environment amid a time of civil unrest.''

The shooting came on the heels of a series of combative protests outside the sheriff's South Los Angeles station, with demonstrators condemning the Aug. 31 fatal shooting by two sheriff's deputies of 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee in the Westmont area. Those demonstrations led to more than three dozen arrests, with the protesters accusing deputies of using excessive force and Villanueva saying demonstrators triggered the violence by hurling objects at sheriff's deputies.

Also in the aftermath of the shooting, Villanueva and the sheriff's department are taking criticism over the arrest of a KPCC/LAist reporter while deputies were working to quell the protest outside the hospital. Video from the scene showed deputies pinning reporter Jose Huang to the ground and arresting her.

The sheriff's department claimed she didn't have proper media credentials and was "interfering with a lawful arrest.'' Villanueva later doubled down on that contention, saying Huang got right up on the shoulder'' of a deputy trying to make an arrest, and saying her actions were more "activism'' than journalism.

RELATED: KPCC, LAist reporter's account, video of violent arrest while covering protest seemingly contradicts LA County Sheriff's Department's claims
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Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies appeared to violently tackle and arrest a radio reporter who was covering the aftermath of an attack on two deputies in Compton.



Video from Huang's cell phone has since surfaced, appearing to contradict the department's description of events. KPCC reported that the video shows Huang repeatedly identifying herself as a reporter, shouting "KPCC,'' and saying, You're hurting me'' while crying out in apparent pain.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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