A gunman ambushed two deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as they sat in their patrol vehicle on Saturday night, leaving them “fighting for their lives,” officials said.
The deputies—a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man, both hired little more than a year ago—were in critical condition after undergoing surgery.
“Two deputies were ambushed by a gunman in a cowardly fashion,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a press briefing at the hospital.
“To see somebody just walk up and start shooting on them—it pisses me off.”
The officers were stationed near a transit hub in Compton. The shooter began to walk past the vehicle, then abruptly turned toward it. Video released by the LASD showed the assailant walking up to the police car with the gun held out, before firing several times through the window.
The deputies were each hit “multiple times,” Villanueva said, declining to comment on where they were struck. “You can get a lot of rounds off in two seconds,” he said.
As the gunman ran off, the passenger door to the sheriff’s vehicle swung open. Police said the wounded deputies radioed for help and were rushed to the hospital by colleagues who responded.
There were reports that at the hospital a crowd shouting anti-police slogans tried to get into the emergency room. At the same time, a reporter for radio station KPCC covering the situation at the hospital was arrested by deputies for obstruction of justice; video showed her on the ground with five deputies surrounding her.
The suspect who shot the deputies still at large hours later, and investigators released the vaguest of descriptions. The sheriff’s office noted that the video, which was shot through a fish-eye lens, provided a distorted view of the scene.
The shooting caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who tweeted, “Animals that must be hit hard!”—even though police have said there was only one gunman.
The shooting comes two days after sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a man while serving a warrant in Compton. The sheriff’s office said the suspect fired on the deputies first and set a fire to destroy evidence.
The LASD has also been under fire for a fatal shooting two weeks ago. Deputies stopped Dijon Kizzee, 29, while riding his bike and claimed he ran, dropped a gun and then reached for the weapon. His family, who have retained civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, say he was running away and presented no danger to police.