A man has been arrested and charged with premeditated attempted murder in connection to an ambush shooting that left two Los Angeles deputies injured.
The deputies, a male and a female who have not been identified publicly, were sitting in their parked patrol vehicle in Compton on Sept. 12 when they were shot multiple times.
Deonte Lee Murray, 36, of Compton, was arrested on Sept. 15 in connection to a carjacking that happened earlier this month, said Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
It wasn’t until after Murray’s arrest in the carjacking incident that he was charged with the ambush shooting of the deputies. If convicted Murray faces a maximum of life in prison, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said at a news conference Wednesday.
“The gunman walked up on the deputies and opened fire without warning or provocation,” the sheriff’s department said.
The deputies underwent surgery and are recovering, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at Wednesday’s news conference. “They still face a lot of reconstructive surgery and it’s going to be a lengthy process, but fortunately they’re doing OK,” he said.
Wegener said that through surveillance video and witness statements, investigators learned that the suspect fled the scene of the shooting in a black Mercedes-Benz sedan. The investigators later learned that a matching vehicle had been stolen during a carjacking on Sept. 1.
Wegener said that during the carjacking the suspect shot the driver with a high-powered rifle.
“The case of the carjacking was investigated and a suspect was subsequently identified and an arrest warrant was obtained for him, Deonte Lee Murray. The arrest warrant was for carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon for shooting the vehicle’s owner during the robbery,” Wegener said.
“The carjacking suspect’s photograph, when compared to the suspect’s image in the surveillance video of the attempted murder, strengthened the possibility that he was involved.”
On Sept. 15, days after the deputies were shot, authorities located Murray in a Toyota and attempted to stop him, but he fled and a pursuit ensued. During that pursuit, Murray tossed a pistol from his car.
The chase ended when Murray abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. He was later found hiding in bushes and was arrested on charges related to the carjacking. The black Mercedes-Benz was also later found, the captain said.
In the days after the arrest, a forensic firearm report was completed that compared ballistic evidence from the scene of the deputies’ shooting to the pistol that Murray discarded during the pursuit.
“It was determined through ballistic comparison that the pistol recovered was the pistol used to shoot” the deputies, Wegener said Wednesday. Murray was charged in the shooting of the deputies with two counts each of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Authorities believe Murray acted alone in the shooting of the deputies. Wegener did not suggest a possible motive for the attack, telling reporters, “other than the fact that he obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead.”