Anonymous donors and the region’s top transportation authority on Monday increased a reward to $200,000 for information leading to the arrest of the gunman who shot and injured two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies over the weekend.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed in an interview with KABC (790 AM) that two donors stepped forward with $25,000 and $50,000 to increase the $100,000 reward approved by the Board of Supervisors on Sunday.
Phillip A. Washington, the CEO of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Authority, said Monday that the agency would contribute another $25,000 to the reward.
“We hope this small contribution will help to bring the perpetrator to justice,” Washington said in a statement.
Villanueva said law enforcement will need help identifying the man who fired multiple times at the two deputies, who were seated in a parked sheriff’s SUV near the Compton Metro station at around 7 p.m. Saturday. The sheriff also indicated investigators believe the shooter may have run to a vehicle waiting for him, and authorities may be seeking a getaway driver.
Both deputies were expected to survive their injuries.
“Fortunately, they were spared any injury to a vital organ that would have jeopardized their life immediately,” Villanueva said in an interview with KNX (1070 AM).
The shooting, which left both deputies recovering from multiple gunshot wounds at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, was captured in full by a security camera. The Sheriff’s Department released an edited clip of the footage hours after the shooting showing the gunman walking up to the deputies’ vehicle and opening fire through their open passenger side window.
The man, wearing a hooded sweater, fled as the two bloodied deputies stumbled out of the vehicle and radioed for help. The shooter escaped despite the camera footage and the sheriff’s vehicles that flooded the area until midmorning Sunday.
No suspects had been identified as of Monday, said Deputy Michelle Sanchez, a department spokesperson.
Department officials said in a statement that they’d seen claims on social media that a suspect had been identified. They said that was false.
“There is a social media post that is being circulated which identifies a male out of the Los Angeles area as the suspect responsible for the ambush of our 2 deputies yesterday,” officials wrote in the statement. “This is ERRONEOUS information and there are no named or wanted suspects at this time.”
Villanueva, in comments to The Associated Press, also criticized elected officials, sports figures and civic leaders for “fanning the flames of hatred” as America grapples with racism and police brutality, saying they instead should emphasize trust in the criminal justice system.
Villanueva said the angry rhetoric is making his deputies’ work more difficult. After the deputies were shot Saturday, some protesters showed up at the hospital where they were being treated. Videos from the scene recorded protesters shouting expletives at police, and at least one yelled, “I hope they die.”
“They’re out there doing their job and yet we have people fanning the flames of hatred and just turning up the volume when we don’t need it. We need to be turning it down,” Villanueva said. “Particularly our elected officials and civic leaders and sports figures, they need to start emphasizing trust in the system, due process.”
Villanueva did not specify any particular people but many public figures, including politicians and athletes, have harshly criticized police and called for defunding departments in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by an officer and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Villanueva also rejected claims the criminal justice system is biased against people of color, saying his department is committed to thorough investigations, including of its own employees.
“To someone who says they’re biased, the only bias we have is toward facts,” he said. “We need to stop the false narratives. We have to let the system take its course and justice has to be based on facts, based on evidence. It has to be right.”
In the KABC interview, Villanueva challenged Lakers player LeBron James, who has been outspoken on social justice issues and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to double the reward offer.
“I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that,” Villanueva said.
Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, have contacted Villanueva since the shooting, the sheriff said. He said the president may reach out to the injured deputies’ families Monday.
Trump visited Northern California on Monday to survey wildfire damage.
“Both candidates have done a very good job, been very supportive,” Villanueva said. “They set aside their political differences and they both stepped up to the plate and said they’re here to support the sheriff’s department, and we support their efforts.”
Staff writer Josh Cain, City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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