Suspects in East LA gunfight with deputies ID'd as known gang members

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The three suspects involved in a shootout with Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in East Los Angeles were all known gang members who were identified on Thursday.

One of the suspects was killed in a gunfire exchange with deputies. Another was wounded and the third was arrested without incident.

Sheriff's officials identified the suspects: Rene Herrera, 39, was identified as the driver and shooter, who was killed at the scene. A gun was recovered near him and officials say he has an extensive criminal history.

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Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were injured during a shooting that left one suspect dead in East Los Angeles Wednesday.

Fernando Cruz, 18, was a passenger in the suspect vehicle who was wounded by gunfire and transported to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition. The third suspect was Hector Martinez, 18, who ran from the vehicle and then was caught and arrested without further incident.

Sheriff's officials say the incident began just after 6 p.m. when deputies got a call about three men in a black BMW approaching people, asking them where they are from and showing a firearm.

Those people called deputies, who responded and found the vehicle in Salazar Park. Three sheriff's vehicles with six personnel total were involved in the stop.

Officials say the driver of the BMW exited and opened fire at deputies. They returned fire and struck two of the suspects, Herrera and Cruz.

One deputy was shot in the jaw and remained in serious-but-stable condition Thursday. The second other deputy was shot in the upper chest and was released from the hospital.

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Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were placed in patrol cars and rushed to LAC+USC Medical Center after being shot at a park in East Los Angeles Wednesday.

"The work that was done last night was truly amazing," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said. "These deputies went out there, they were given a report of assault with deadly weapon that just occurred. When gang members drive up and ask you where you're from, the next thing you usually hear is a gunshot."

Officials initially said they believed there were four suspects involved, but later clarified and said there were only three.

Sheriff's officials say three deputy patrol vehicles responded to the initial call. Two of the vehicles held two deputies each.

The third vehicle held a deputy and a civilian technician with the department who was on a ridealong. The deputy in that vehicle was one of the two who were injured. The civilian tech was not injured, but she had to duck for cover during the shooting.

McDonnell is currently running for re-election. His opponent, Alex Villanueva, held a press conference earlier in the day to criticize the sheriff for staffing shortages that he said contributed to the deputies' injuries. He said it is a breach of protocol for the vehicle to not have two sworn deputies while patrolling that area at night.

"This is pressure being exerted by management under McDonnell to cut down on overtime expenditures throughout all the patrol stations," Villanueva said. "And this has happened on a regular basis."

McDonnell replied that he thought it was "disgusting" for his opponent to politicize the incident and to, in his view, blame the deputies involved.

"That is disgusting to think that he is laying this on the backs of the deputies who are out there doing their job and blaming something other than the predators who are out there on the street who took on these deputies who were putting themselves between the public and the people who were trying to prey on the public," McDonnell said.

Anyone with more information about the shooting is urged to call the tip hotline at (800) 222-TIPS.
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