A sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the upper chest during an East Los Angeles gunfight that left a suspect dead was released from a hospital Thursday while a second continued to be treated for a gunshot wound to the jaw.
Meanwhile, sheriff’s officials identified the suspect who was fatally shot in the Thursday night confrontation as 39-year-old Rene Herrera, a gang member with an “extensive criminal history.”
The shooting occurred around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday at Ruben F. Salazar Park, 3864 Whittier Blvd., which reopened Thursday afternoon, the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department announced.
Sheriff’s officials said deputies from the East Los Angeles Station responded to a report that someone in a dark-colored BMW sedan had pointed a gun at three people near Sixth Street and Bonnie Beach Place, allegedly after asking them about gang affiliation, sheriff’s Lt. Scott Hoglund said. The victims called 911 and reported an assault with a deadly weapon.
Deputies responding to the scene spotted a vehicle matching the description given by the callers and followed it until the driver stopped near a baseball field at Salazar Park. Once the vehicle stopped, the driver — Herrera — got out and opened fire at the deputies, Hoglund said.
Two deputies were struck with gunfire, with one shot in the jaw and one struck in the shoulder/upper chest area, Hoglund said. Both deputies managed to return fire, as did at least two other deputies who were at the scene, he said.
Herrera was killed at the scene and a gun was recovered from under his body, Hoglund said.
A second suspect, 18-year-old Fernando Cruz, was shot and remains hospitalized in critical condition. A third suspect, 18-year-old Hector Martinez, tried to run from the scene but was arrested a short time later. He is being at the East Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Patrol Station in lieu of $2 million bail.
Hoglund said all three suspects are gang members from the East Los Angeles area.
A witness told KNX-AM (1070) she heard anywhere from 20 to 30 shots fired during the confrontation.
Deputies took their wounded colleagues to Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center in patrol cars. They were initially listed in serious but stable condition, authorities said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Thursday that deputy who was shot in the upper body had been released from the hospital, but the second remained hospitalized. The names of the deputies had not been released as of Thursday afternoon. McDonnell said earlier that both are in their 30s and have been with the department for at least 10 years.
McDonnell said he met with relatives of the wounded deputies at the hospital Wednesday night
McDonnell asked anyone with information about the shooting to talk with detectives.
“If people do not come forward, then that empowers people who are willing to do these kinds of acts of senseless violence to continue to do those,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell expressed his thanks to the Los Angeles Police Department for its support.
“LAPD reached out right away to see if they could be helpful,” McDonnell said. “The way the situation played out we’re good at this point, but we certainly appreciate the thoughts and the prayers and the reach-out that we’ve gotten from so many.”
Free counseling support in English and Spanish is available to residents from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the park’s Senior Center. Free counseling is available at any time by calling (800) 854-7771.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives asked anyone with any information regarding the incident to call them at (323) 890-5500.
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