Both of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who were ambushed and shot at close range Saturday night will likely recover, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Sunday.
They already “survived the worst,” he said during a Facebook livestream with the City of Refuge church in Gardena. But he expressed concern the deputies could have lasting health effects from the attack.
The shooting happened at just before 7 p.m., leaving the deputies critically injured and hospitalized. One of them is a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy; the other is a 24-year-old man, Villanueva said during a Saturday night news conference.
With scant details available about the person who ambushed the deputies, officials turned to the community on Sunday, offering a $100,000 reward for anyone who can help track down the shooter.
The suspect was described as a Black man between the ages of 28 and 30, seen wearing dark clothing.
“We really need the public’s help in apprehending the suspect,” Deputy Juanita Navarro said late Saturday. “There’s a very dangerous individual free right now. Our main goal is utilizing all our resources to locate him — and we’re not going to stop.”
The reward was authorized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for “information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect,” the sheriff’s department announced Sunday afternoon.
During a news conference on Saturday, the Sheriff’s Department said the deputies were fighting for their lives.
The shooting has attracted national attention from prominent Republicans and Democrats, as well as local leaders.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn called the shootings “horrifying and heinous.”
She put out a statement asking for “calm and for protests to remain peaceful so that we can pursue constructive solutions to the challenges we face as a community.”
Meanwhile, local civil rights leaders, who have often questioned shootings and other tactics by the sheriff’s department, focused their energy on condemning Saturday’s attack.
“I and other civil rights leaders have long been in the forefront in the fight against police violence and for police reform, including justice for Dijon Kizzee and other victims of dubious shootings by L.A. County Sheriffs,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said in a statement late Saturday. “However, we have been equally strong in condemning any violence against law enforcement.
“This flies in the face of the tradition of civil rights protest, which has always opposed any form of violence or attacks in retaliation for injustice. This is totally counterproductive to the aims and goals of the civil rights movement, which respects all lives. We pray for the recovery and safety of these officers.”
Just outside a Metro building, steps from the Blue Line Station on Sunday morning, wet patches on concrete marked where the two deputies sat in their SUV on Saturday when the gunman walked up to the passenger window and opened fire, before running away.
Sheriff’s vehicles and crime scene tape blocked North Willowbrook Avenue at Compton Avenue before leaving the area mid-morning. Huge letters spelling out “Compton,” part of a public art piece decorating the station, were visible through the Metro line fence.
Just across the street, residents milled about in their front yards. Children were playing, some adults were doing yard work, others were sitting outside, taking in the warm Sunday morning light.
Omar Williams was walking with his daughter on the sidewalk past this row of homes and small apartment buildings.
His father, a retired Metro bus driver, has lived in the neighborhood for a decade, Williams said, describing residents here as mostly working-class families.
“People on this street, you can tell they take care of their homes,” Williams said. “They’re hard-working. A lot of people own their homes, they own businesses. But they can’t afford to live anywhere else.”
He said sheriff’s vehicles patrol the area often. Their station is less than a half-mile away. At least one sheriff’s SUV was often parked in the exact spot where the shooting occurred Saturday night.
Williams and other residents in the area said given the recent shooting of Dijon Frizee, they weren’t surprised someone targeted the deputies. For years, they said deputies at the Compton station had acted like soldiers in their community.
He had been to recent Black Lives Matter protests, Williams said, and noticed increasing tensions between demonstrators and police; he said some were taking the police treatment and the shootings “personally.”
But he said that didn’t mean people here wanted more violence.
“We need police. We understand that,” Williams said. “But it’s over-policing that we don’t want.”
Reacting to a video of the shooting, which shows a person walking up to the deputies’ cruiser and shooting at them through the window before running away, President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday night: “Animals that must be hit hard!”
The next day, his son Donald Trump Jr., called for folks to pray for the deputies, tweeting, “Their lives matter!!!”
The president responded, tweeting: “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!”
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, also weighed in on Twitter, writing: “This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice. Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished. Jill and I are keeping the deputies and their loved ones in our hearts and praying for a full recovery.”
On Saturday night, anti-police protesters gathered outside the hospital where the deputies were being treated on Saturday, resulting in two arrests, including one of a local radio reporter, KPCC’s Josie Huang.
Huang was accused of obstructing justice; she said she was trying to document the arrest of a protester.
While condemning the shooting, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called for an investigation into Huang’s arrest.
The Sheriff’s Department said at one point Saturday night protesters temporarily blocked the hospital’s emergency room entrance and shouted disparaging comments about the deputies, including one person who reportedly said, “We hope they die.”
Just after midnight, the Sheriff’s Department sent out a tweet asking protesters not to block hospital entrances.
Anyone with information about the shooting was encouraged 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.