LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – A suspect is in custody in the ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County deputies in Compton earlier in September, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Wednesday.
Described by Villanueva as a “coward,” the suspect was identified during a 10 a.m. news conference as 36-year-old Deonte Lee Murray of Compton.
Murray has been charged with premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to a news release from Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators believe Murray is the person seen on video walking up to a patrol car outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Transit Center on Sept. 12 and opening fire on a male and female deputy, then running away.
Both deputies were struck by the gunfire but were able to help each other while they waited for backup and medical support.
The 31-year-old female deputy was struck in the face and the 24-year-old male deputy was also hit in the head, the Sheriff’s Department has said. Both were hospitalized in critical condition and have since been released to continue their recovery.
“My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the deputies and their families as they recover from their injuries,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said during the news conference.
Murray was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday. Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $6.15 million. If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum life sentence in state prison.
Murray is believed to have been additionally involved in a Sept. 1 carjacking and robbery, also in the city of Compton.
“During that crime, the suspect shot the victim in the leg with a high-powered rifle and stole his vehicle,” Homicide Bureau Capt. Kent Wegener said.
An arrest warrant was issued for Murray in that case, Wegener said.
On Sept. 15, three days after he allegedly shot the deputies, Murray was located but fled from authorities when they went to contact him, Wegener said.
A pursuit ensued, and a pistol was thrown from the vehicle during the chase. The firearm was recovered by investigators.
The vehicle eventually came to a stop in Lynwood and Murray was arrested with the help of a K-9 unit, Wegener said.
At the time of that arrest, the Sheriff’s Department told reporters the carjacking suspect was not a suspect in the shooting of the deputies. But a source told KTLA his firearm was tested for a match to the ambush shooting.
Murray was charged with carjacking, second-degree robbery, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and attempted murder in the Sept. 1 incident.
He also faces allegations of association with a criminal street gang and discharging a rifle inflicting great bodily injury in the carjacking incident, the DA’s office stated.
At some point in the days after Murray’s arrest, ballistics testing confirmed the gun thrown from the vehicle was the same as the one used in the shooting of the deputies, Wegener said.
The pistol, described as a “ghost gun,” linked Murray to the shooting of the deputies, Wegener said.
No motive for the shooting was given “other than the fact that he obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead,” Wegener said.
Investigators believe Murray acted alone in the shooting of the deputies.
The Sheriff’s Department is not releasing images of Murray due to the ongoing investigation.
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