Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are fighting for their lives after they were shot multiple times at point-blank range in an ambush, authorities said.
Crowds of protesters blocked the entrance to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where the wounded officers were in a critical condition, police said. Some protesters chanted “we hope they die,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter. A witness told ABC7 that some had tried to break into the hospital’s emergency room.
The shooting happened at around 7 p.m. Saturday at the Metro Blue Line station at Willowbrook Avenue and Compton Boulevard, not far from the Compton sheriff’s station.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department shared video of the incident in a post on Twitter that shows a person open fire through the passenger-side window of the patrol car in Compton.
The department tweeted: “Moments ago, 2 of our Sheriff Deputies were shot in Compton and were transported to a local hospital. They are both still fighting for their lives, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
“The gunman walked up on the deputies and opened fire without warning or provocation,” the department added. The suspect remains at large, it added.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a news conference on Saturday night that the 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy both underwent surgery on Saturday evening and remain in critical condition.
The female deputy is a mother to a 6-year-old boy, Villanueva said. Both deputies had graduated from the academy 14 months ago, he added.
The deputies, from the department’s Transit Services Bureau, were parked adjacent to 101 East Palmer St. across from the station, when the suspect approached “from behind,” Capt. Kent Wegner said. He said the deputies were facing southbound, and the shooter came from the north.
“He walked along the passenger side of the car. 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.”
The suspect then fled north and the injured deputies were able to radio for help, he said.
Wegner said officials only had a “very generic” description of the suspect from one of the wounded deputies on Saturday evening—that it was a “dark-skinned male.”
At the news conference, Villanueva also expressed his frustration over what he said was a growing trend of unprovoked attacks on police amid rising anti-police sentiment. His department has come under fire during recent protests over racial injustice.
“That was a cowardly act,” he said. “The two deputies were doing their job, minding their own business, watching out for the safety of the people on the train.”
He added: “Seeing somebody just walk up and start shooting on them. It pisses me off. It dismays me at the same time. There’s no pretty way to say it.”
Videos posted on social media showed a group of protesters gathering outside thee hospital where the wounded officers were taken.
In one clip, a man who identifies himself as Kevin Wharton Price of the BLM Africa Town Coalition refers to the injured deputies as “two of America’s most notorious gang members.”
Other clips showed the group being confronted by officers outside the hospital when they tried to get inside.
In a tweet late on Saturday night, the sheriff’s department said protesters were blocking the entrance and exit to the hospital the wounded deputies were at.
“To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling “We hope they die” referring to 2 LA Sheriff’s ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL,” the tweet said. “People’s lives are at stake when ambulances can’t get through.”
The sheriff’s department later said deputies had issued a dispersal order for an unlawful assembly.
“A male adult protester refused to comply & cooperate,” the department said.
“During his arrest, a struggle ensued at which time a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest.”
The woman, a local journalist, “did not identify herself as press and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person,” according to the sheriff’s department. The man and the journalist were both taken into custody.