Two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies were shot Saturday night in what officials called an “ambush” near a transit station.
The department tweeted that the man and woman had been ambushed as they sat in a parked patrol vehicle. They were in critical condition at a hospital, officials said, and the suspect remained at large.
The department tweeted security video of the incident, saying, “The gunman walked up on the deputies and opened fire without warning or provocation.”
Deputy Morgan Arteaga said the attack was reported about 7 p.m. at a train station in the city of Compton. The sheriff’s department has a unit that patrols Los Angeles Metro trains; it’s also contracted to police that city.
“They are still alive,” Arteaga said.
The Metro Blue Line train station where Deputy Eric Ortiz said the attack took place is near the sheriff’s Compton Station.
Moments ago, 2 of our Sheriff Deputies were shot in Compton and were transported to a local hospital. They are both still fighting for their lives, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We will update this thread with information as it becomes available.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) September 13, 2020
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Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener told a late-night news conference that the suspect approached the deputies from behind in their patrol vehicle and acted like he was going to walk past.
Then he raised the pistol and fired several rounds inside of the vehicle, striking both deputies, Wegener said.
As the suspect fled, the deputies were able to radio for help, he added.
“We have a very, very generic suspect description of a dark-skinned male and that came from one of the deputies, one of the victims,” he said.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the two deputies graduated from the sheriff’s training academy about 14 months ago.
“One is a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy,” he said. “The other is a 24-year-old.”
The deputies were ambushed”in a cowardly fashion,” he said adding that they were both shot multiple times.
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The deputies were taken to the nearby St. Francis Medical Center, where they underwent surgery, Villanueva said.
The FBI offered resources to the sheriff’s department Saturday night as authorities searched for the suspect.
Villanueva noted the attack came amid a backdrop of nationwide protests against police after the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
“This is just a sober reminder it’s a dangerous job,” Villanueva said. “Actions, words have consequence. And our job does not get any easier because people don’t like law enforcement.”
President Donald Trump tweeted that whoever shot the deputies are, “Animals that must be hit hard!”
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security.