The reward for information leading to the gunman who shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at a Compton rail station has soared to $640,000, and more than $800,000 has been donated toward their medical care, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Thursday.
One of the deputies, a 24-year-old man, was released from St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood Wednesday and is recovering at home according to Villanueva. The other, a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy, remains hospitalized.
The sheriff said the $640,000 reward offer is a combination of funds offered by public and private entities. The county Board of Supervisors alone offered $100,000 toward the reward.
Villanueva said donations toward the deputies’ medical care has also come from various private entities.
“The outpouring of support from throughout the nation has been overwhelming and I thank each and ever person,” he said, adding the money will hopefully “provide long-term care for both deputies involved.”
A GoFundMe page set up for the two deputies was set up by sheriff’s Detective Keegan McInnis and can be found at ow.ly/N3q430r9VTq.
The sheriff said the investigation is “progressing well,” with detectives following “numerous and substantial leads,” but a suspect has not yet been identified and no arrests have been made.
Investigators are trying to identify a person who can been seen on the widely viewed surveillance video that captured the Saturday night shooting. The person is seen in the background of the video, walking past the rail station as the shooter runs in the person’s direction.
“We know that person was there and saw that suspect run right by,” Villanueva said.
Detectives are hoping the person will come forward, but Villanueva said the surveillance video is too grainy to provide any detailed description of the person.
The deputies were shot at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Metro A (Blue) Line station at Willowbrook Avenue and Palmer Street as they sat in the front seat of a patrol SUV. Surveillance video shows 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.
The shooter was described by the sheriff’s department as a “male Black, 28- to 30 years old, wearing dark clothing, who was last seen heading northbound on Willowbrook Avenue in a black four-door sedan.”
Sheriff’s officials suspect a separate getaway driver was also involved in the attack, and that person is also being sought.
Villanueva said earlier the deputies were fortunate to have avoided fatal injuries in what amounted to a point-blank shooting. The female deputy was shot in the jaw, while the male deputy suffered a wound to the forehead and arm.
Both deputies were sworn in just 14 months ago.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors formally ratified its $100,000 reward offer Tuesday. The county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority added $25,000 to the reward, noting that the deputies were working for Metro’s Transit Services Bureau at the time of the shooting.
The League of United Latin American Citizens added another $25,000 to the reward money, and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents the department’s deputies, announced Tuesday night that it was donating $75,000.
Members of the county board said cities including Palmdale, Cerritos, Lakewood and Industry had also added to the reward.
Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas authored the reward motion.
Ridley-Thomas urged those who know the gunman to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be left for L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or at lacrimestoppers.org.
“We simply cannot tolerate this kind of lawlessness,” he said.
Villanueva this week challenged Lakers star LeBron James, who has been outspoken on social-justice issues and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to match the reward offer.
Villanueva said Tuesday that he singled out James because of the player’s previous comments after last month’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“He symbolized some of the comments we’ve heard from politicians, elected leaders, civic leaders, where they’re making a broad-brush condemnation of an entire profession,” Villanueva said.
“I just think we need to put down the broad brushes and re-focus on all the people accountable when they cross the line, as we are doing with law enforcement across the entire nation.”
James has not responded to Villanueva’s comments.
The shooting came on the heels of a series of combative protests outside the sheriff’s South Los Angeles station, with demonstrators condemning the Aug. 31 fatal shooting by two sheriff’s deputies of 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee in the Westmont area.
Those demonstrations led to more than three dozen arrests, with the protesters accusing deputies of using excessive force and Villanueva saying demonstrators triggered the violence by hurling objects at sheriff’s deputies.
The sheriff’s department was also being criticized over the arrest of a KPCC/LAist reporter while deputies were working to quell a protest that erupted outside the Lynwood hospital where the wounded deputies were taken Saturday night. Video from the scene showed deputies pinning reporter Josie Huang to the ground and arresting her.
The sheriff’s department claimed she didn’t have proper media credentials and was “interfering with a lawful arrest.” Villanueva later doubled down on that contention, saying Huang got “right up on the shoulder” of a deputy trying to make an arrest, and saying her actions were more “activism” than journalism.
Video from Huang’s cell phone has since surfaced, showing Huang repeatedly identifying herself as a reporter, shouting “KPCC,” and saying, “You’re hurting me” and crying out in apparent pain.
Inspector General Max Huntsman has opened an investigation into Huang’s arrest.
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