A massive manhunt was underway Sunday for the gunman who ambushed two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies, shooting them at point-blank range as they sat in their patrol car in the wake of anti-police protests.
The deputies, a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man, were expected to survive after undergoing surgeries.
The Saturday attack in Compton was captured on surveillance video. The department said the gunman acted “without warning or provocation.”
President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in condemning the shooting. Mr. Trump said such assailants are “animals that must be hit hard.”
“There’s no place in civilized society for anybody to draw an arm and to shoot our law enforcement officers that put their lives on the line,” Mr. Garcetti said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He decried as “abhorrent” the protesters who gathered late Saturday outside St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where the officers were transported. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the protesters blocked the emergency access and shouted “We hope they die.”
Video posted online showed a crowd of protesters at the emergency entrance outside the hospital yelling, “Oink, oink” and “f—- the police.”
The National Fraternal Order of Police condemned the “baseless hate from the mob.” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, tweeted, “Just more ‘peaceful’ protesting?”
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the deputies, who graduated 14 months ago from the academy, were sitting in their patrol car at the Compton metro station when they were ambushed in daylight at about 7 p.m. Saturday.
“It p——s me off. It dismays me at the same time,” Sheriff Villanueva said at a late-night press conference. “There’s no prettier way to say it.”
The surveillance video posted by the department showed a gunman approach the car on the passenger side and fire several shots into the front-seat window before running off. Despite their multiple wounds, the deputies were able to radio for help.
The female officer is the mother of a 6-year-old, the sheriff said.
The department on Sunday announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman, who was identified as a Black man 28 to 30 years old. He was last seen fleeing in a dark sedan.
“Actions, words have consequences, and our job does not get any easier because people don’t like law enforcement. It’s going to be a challenge, day after day; however, the sheriff’s department will never be deterred in keeping our passengers safe on the MTA lines, keeping our communities safe,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
Sheriff Villanueva said unprovoked attacks have become more common. He noted that a man was fatally shot Thursday in Compton after he began firing on deputies who served him with a search warrant.
“It seems to be part of a trend, a growing trend where suspects open fire unprovoked,” the sheriff said. “Across the nation, roughly once a week, an officer is felled by the felonious acts of another person. Every week across the nation, someone is losing their life in the line of duty. This is just another grim reminder of that.”
Hours after the shooting, deputies cleared a months-old protest encampment run by Black Unity LA in Grand Park, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing “illegal narcotic activity, vandalism and graffiti.”
Mr. Biden said in a statement that he and his wife, Jill, were “keeping the deputies and their loved ones in our hearts and praying for a full recovery.”
“This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable, and the perpetrator must be brought to justice,” Mr. Biden tweeted. “Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished.”
The sheriff’s department is already stretched thin by the Bobcat fire as well as days of protests and rioting last week in Los Angeles that resulted in dozens of arrests.
Tensions have run high since a deputy fatally shot Dijon Kizzee, 29, on Aug. 31 after he was pulled over for a code violation while riding a bicycle. The department said he fled on foot and punched a deputy, and was shot as he reached for a handgun that fell out when he dropped his jacket.
Mr. Kizzee’s family is represented by lawyer Ben Crump, who also represents the family of George Floyd, who died May 25 in Minneapolis police custody, and Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back multiple times by an officer during an Aug. 23 call on a domestic dispute in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
All three men are Black.
Black Lives Matter protesters in Los Angeles have called for defunding the police, prompting the Los Angeles City Council to cut $150 million from the $3 billion LAPD budget in July, bringing the department’s budget to its lowest level since 2008.
“My thoughts are not just with those two deputies, but with their families and everybody in the Los Angeles sheriff’s office that’s hanging on,” Mr. Garcetti said. “Of course, there’s an important conversation going on around policing in this country, but these are folks who put their lives on the line for us and we will find justice for them.”