Sheriff: Investigators have leads in search for suspect in deputies shooting

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said yesterday that investigators had “promising leads” in the search for the gunman who shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies as they sat in a patrol SUV at a Compton rail station.

“We’re on the right path,” Villanueva said Tuesday. 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.

As of Tuesday, no suspects had been identified, despite some online social media chatter to the contrary. 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.”

Tuesday afternoon, rumors were also flying that a carjacking suspect cornered by LASD SWAT officers in Lynwood had something to do with the shooting, but authorities said there was no evidence connecting the two incidents at this point.

This Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, still image taken from video released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, shows Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva taking questions at a late-night news conference about the condition of two Sheriff’s deputies in Compton. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department via AP.

A GoFundMe page set up for the two deputies was poised to exceed its original goal of raising $400,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. As of 3 p.m., more than 5,735 people had donated $395,905 toward the page’s new goal of $500,000.

The deputies remained hospitalized but made it through surgery for their wounds and were last reported in stable condition.

“Fortunately, they were spared any injury to a vital organ that would have jeopardized their life immediately,” Villanueva told KNX-AM (1070) on Monday.

But Villanueva said the deputies—described only as a 24-year-old man and a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy—have a long road to recovery. Villanueva said Saturday that both deputies were sworn in just 14 months ago.

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.

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 LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or at lacrimestoppers.org.

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