Photo by John Schreiber.

Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are honoring three sheriff’s deputies who saved a 4-year-old boy who was shot in the head by a stray bullet fired during a nearby gang argument in Compton.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas commended the deputies’ heroism, saying they epitomized “the best in law enforcement.”

Deputies Austreberto “Art” Gonzalez, Brian Reza and Sergio Jimenez made a split-second decision last Wednesday that they knew they’d have to live with for the rest of the lives, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

“They roll out there on radio call after radio call, never knowing what they’re gonna face when they get there. In this case, the most tragic of circumstances, a 4-year-old boy shot in the head,” McDonnell said during Tuesday’s board meeting.

“They had a decision to make very quickly: Do they wait for the paramedics to be able to get there, knowing that they’ll give them the best care that we can provide? But … knowing that it may be minutes before they get there and that every second counts.”

They raced to St. Francis Medical Center, just two minutes away, with the boy in the back seat.

The boy is still hospitalized, but is in stable condition, authorities said.

He had been riding in a car with his mom when a stray bullet hit him June 7.

An alleged gang member suspected in the shooting is facing eight felony counts. Luis Julian Beltran Perez, 22, pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and three counts of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle. The charges include gang and gun allegations.

Perez allegedly confronted a group of men standing in front of a liquor store near Atlantic Avenue and Compton Boulevard and then grabbed a gun and started shooting, Deputy District Attorney Shannon Cooley said.

McDonnell said the men were from rival gangs.

Perez is being held on $9 million bail and could face up to life in prison if convicted as charged.

–City News Service

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