After two deputies were shot and left in critical condition Saturday night, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released surveillance footage that appears to show the shooting in Compton.
Three hours after shots were fired, the search for the shooter was ongoing, officials said.
The deputies were working with the department’s Transit Services Bureau and sitting inside a patrol vehicle parked near the Blue Line Metro station in Compton when the shooter approached them, according to the department.
They were parked along 101 East Palmer St., across from the station, when the gunman came up “from behind” just before 7 p.m., Captain Kent Wegner said during a news conference later Saturday night. He said the deputies were facing southbound, and the shooter walked up from the north.
“He walked along the passenger side of the car,” Wegner said. “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.”
Both deputies were left in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds, officials said. They underwent surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood within four hours of the shooting.
One of the deputies is a 31-year-old woman who is married and has a 6-year-old son, and the other deputy is a 24-year-old man, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva. He said they were both graduates of Class 437. On its Facebook page, the department posted a video of that class’s graduation ceremony at East Los Angeles College on July 11, 2019.
“They just graduated, and in fact, I swore them into office just 14 months ago,” Villanueva said. “These are real people doing a tough job, and it just shows the dangers of the job, in the blink of an eye.”
While the shooter remains at large, 14 homicide detectives and several other investigators are working to find them based off video collected from cameras in the area and a “very, very generic suspect description” given by the male deputy who was shot, Wegner said.
He said the deputy was only able to describe the shooter as a “dark-skinned male.”
A seven-second clip released by the department, which Wegner said came from an MTA camera just south of the shooting, shows a person in dark-colored clothing walk up to a sheriff’s patrol vehicle and appear to open fire before running away.
However, Wegner said that video was taken from a fisheye lens, likely distorting the appearance of the shooter’s actual height and weight. Because of that, investigators are mostly working off of the wounded deputy’s account, he said.
“So I’d rather go from the eyewitness at this point,” Wegner said. “We hope to have more soon.”
Less than an hour after the shooting, the department said in a tweet: “They are both still fighting for their lives, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
“This was an unprovoked, cowardly act,” said Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer, who represents California’s 59th Assembly District, which encompasses much of neighboring South Los Angeles.
“The individual will be caught, and justice will prevail,” Sawyer said. “Tonight, we as a community, must condemn the actions of the perpetrators.”
Sawyer and Assemblymember Mike Gibson, who represents Compton and other parts of L.A., both called for prayers for the wounded deputies and urged anyone with information to come forward.
“If you know something, if you were there, we’re asking that you please call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and please share what you know,” Gibson said.
The shooting has left the Sheriff’s Department shaken. Villanueva struggled to mince words as he spoke to reporters late Saturday night.
“Two deputies were doing their job, minding their own business and watching out for the safety of the people on the train,” Villanueva said. “And seeing somebody walk up and just start shooting on them — it pisses me off.”
“It dismays me at the same time, and I have no pretty way to say it,” Villanueva said.