Suspect arrested in ambush shooting of two LASD deputies in Compton
LOS ANGELES - The suspect accused of shooting two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies during an ambush in Compton has been arrested, authorities announced Wednesday.
Deonte Lee Murray, 36, of Compton, pleaded not guilty to two counts each of attempted murder of a peace officer and possession of a firearm by a felon in
connection with the Sept. 12 attack on the deputies, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
He had already been charged Sept. 17 with one felony count each of carjacking, second-degree robbery and assault with a semi-automatic firearm -- along with gang and gun allegations -- involving a Sept. 1 carjacking in Compton, in which he allegedly shot a man in the leg with a high-powered rifle and stole his black Mercedes-Benz. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and has remained behind bars since his Sept. 15 arrest.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey expressed her best wishes to the injured deputies and said, "They became victims of a violent crime for one reason: They were doing their job and they were wearing a badge."
Murray is being held on $6 million bail; he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on all charges. Murray is currently being jailed at Twin Towers Correctional Facility. However, his attorney asked that he be removed to another facility due to safety concerns… citing Murray feels threatened by deputies. His attorney says Murray prefers to be jailed in a facility that does not have LA County deputies.
Investigators said they believe Murray acted alone in the assault on the deputies.
When asked about a possible motive for the shooting, Homicide Bureau Captain Kent Wegener said, "other than the fact that he obviously hates policemen and wants them dead, not specifically."
Murray is a convicted felon, according to Wegener. He was arrested two weeks ago in connection with an armed-carjacking in Lynwood. At which time, the sheriff's department told FOX 11 that the arrest was not related to the ambush shooting.
RELATED: Carjacking suspect in custody after hours-long standoff in Lynwood
"We knew that he was a violent offender, was accused of stealing a black Mercedes-Benz and lived in the area. However, there was insufficient evidence to support an arrest, much less a criminal filing for the charge of attempted murder on a peace officer and to label him in the media as the person responsible," the sheriff's homicide captain said.
"Additionally, bringing the public focus on him at that point of the investigation may have influenced the pending witness interviews and further compromised the mission of solving the attempted murder of the deputies," he said. "As the investigation progressed, we gathered sufficient evidence to substantiate not only the arrest but the filing of criminal charges in this case.''
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.
As the two deputies were being treated at the hospital, condolences came in from all over the world. So did tips. Investigators say they were able to tie the vehicle the suspect fled in to a carjacking two weeks prior.
When they tried to stop the suspect in the carjacking he fled, throwing a gun out the window. Forensics was then able to link that gun to the deputy-involved shooting.
The two deputies were shot on Sept. 12 at the Metro A (Blue) Line station at Willowbrook Avenue and Palmer Street.
RELATED: Two LASD deputies shot at Compton train station, search for suspect underway
Surveillance video showed the suspect approaching the patrol vehicle from behind, walking up to the passenger side of the vehicle, pulling out a handgun and firing through the passenger side window. The gunman is then seen running away.
"Despite being critically injured, the deputies valiantly cared for each other's wounds and safety, communicated their location and plight to others, and tactically prepared for another attack," according to a statement from the department.
A reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect had increased to more than $600,000.
"We saw the worst of humanity — a cowardly act where a suspect ambushed and shot and attempted to kill two of our deputies," said Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
"This cowardly ambush was followed by bystanders celebrating and cheering that the deputies had been shot, and that followed at the hospital -- the sanctity, the quiet sanctity of the hospital -- with protesters cheering and chanting for the deputies to die," Villanueva said. "These acts and that day, I will not forget it, and it represents the worst in humanity and it shocked the whole nation. And that evening, I said we will find this man. And I can report today, we have found our suspect."
RELATED: Crowd gathers outside hospital, chants 'We hope they die' after 2 LA County deputies were shot
Both deputies, a 31-year-old woman and 24-year-old man who have not been identified publicly, were released from the hospital earlier this month and are recovering at home. Villanueva says they are doing well and are relieved to hear about the charges. They face further reconstructive surgeries and their recoveries will be a long process, Villanueva added.
Anyone with information on the case can call the sheriff's tip line at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be left for L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) or at lacrimestoppers.org.
FOX 11’s Christina Gonzalez contributed to this report