After a three-week manhunt, a Los Angeles man was arrested and charged Wednesday with attempting to murder two sheriff’s deputies who were ambushed as they sat in their car.
Deonte Lee Murray, 36, is facing two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer and possession of a firearm for allegedly walking up to the squad car parked outside a Metro station on Sept. 12 and opening fire, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
“They became victims of a violent crime for one reason: They wear a badge,” L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a press conference.
Murray, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, was recently charged with attempted murder for a carjacking in Compton two weeks before the shooting. He allegedly used the stolen car as a getaway vehicle in the ambush.
He faces further charges of being part of a criminal street gang, discharging a rifle inflicting great bodily injury, and personal use of a rifle in the carjacking incident.
The two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, identified in media reports as 31-year-old Claudia Apolinar and a 24-year-old man, were sitting in their car in Compton when Murray allegedly approached the front passenger side and opened fire.
A security video showed a man in dark clothing approaching the patrol car before raising his handgun and firing several rounds through the window. One deputy is then seen emerging from the car and stumbling for several seconds.
“Despite being critically injured, deputies valiantly cared for each other’s wounds and safety, communicated their location and plight to others and tactically prepared for another attack,” the sheriff’s department said in an earlier statement, adding that the suspect fled the scene in dark a Mercedes-Benz.
Apolinar was shot in the jaw while her partner was shot in the head—and both are now at home recovering.
The shooting was seized on by President Donald Trump, who claimed it was part of ongoing attacks on law enforcement by anti-police brutality protesters.
While authorities on Wednesday wouldn’t comment on Murray’s motive, Kent Wegener, captain of the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau, said the 36-year-old “obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead, not specifically.”
“These acts and that day, I will not forget it, and it represents the worst in humanity, and it shocked the whole nation,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva added during the press conference. “And that evening I said we’ll find this man, and I can report today we have found our suspect.”
“That worst of humanity was followed by the best of humanity,” he added. “Our entire department rallied together.”
Murray was charged earlier this month over the Sept. 1 carjacking. He allegedly confronted another man in Compton, shot him in the leg then stole his car. He was found and arrested on Sept. 15 after a lengthy standoff in Lynwood.
Speculation was rife after the Sept. 15 standoff that Murray was the same person who had ambushed the deputies, although officials said at the time that he wasn’t. On Wednesday, however, Wegener said authorities later learned the car Murray used to flee the scene of the ambush on Sept. 12 was the same car he’d stolen two weeks prior in the carjacking. A ghost gun used in the shooting was recovered by investigators in Compton.
Murray is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday, where prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $6.15 million.