Sheriff Villanueva during the Wednesday press conference. Screen grab from youtube.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced during a Wednesday press conference that they have arrested and charged 36-year-old Deonte Lee Murray for the Sept. 12 attempted murder of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies while they sat in their squad car outside of a Compton train station.
According to Jackie Lacey, the LA County district attorney, Murray is charged with two felony counts of “willful, deliberate and premeditated attempted murder of a police officer,” in addition to his other charges already pending.
Two weeks ago, he was arrested in connection with a carjacking on Sept. 1 when he allegedly shot the driver of a black Mercedes-Benz in the leg and stole the vehicle. He was charged for that carjacking incident on Sept. 17 with attempted murder, carjacking, robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon.
Murray is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in the Compton, California, courthouse. If he is convicted with the current charges, he faces a life sentence in state prison. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Capt. Kent Wegener didn’t specify a motive for the attack “other than the fact that he obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead.” Wegener detailed the investigation and what authorities have established thus far.
After the two deputies were shot, the perpetrator was seen on video footage escaping the area in a black four-door sedan. Authorities interviewed witnesses and compiled video footage to conclude that the escape vehicle was a black Mercedes-Benz. After further investigation, authorities connected the carjacking with the ambush on the deputies and subsequently issued a felony arrest warrant for Murray.
Units from the LAPD Major Crimes Bureau Surveillance Apprehension Team located and positively identified Murray while he was driving in a Toyota. Officers attempted to pull him over, but he fled, leading them into a pursuit. While evading the officers, Murray threw a pistol from his vehicle, which was recovered by authorities.
Murray fled his vehicle and led officers on a foot chase in the area of the 3100 block of Carlin Avenue in the city of Lynwood. Authorities established a containment perimeter and located Murray with the help of a K-9.
The stolen Mercedes-Benz was located not far from the containment area in which Murray was arrested. Police recovered the pistol discarded during the pursuit, and it was found to have eight rounds in the magazine out of a 13-round capacity. The investigation into the ambush of the deputies previously established that five rounds had been shot at the officers.
Villanueva referred to the ambush as a “cowardly act.” He said that the people who cheered for the attack and those who wished the deputies dead outside the hospital where they were undergoing treatment were “the worst of humanity.”
“These acts and that day — I will not forget it, and it represents the worst of humanity and it shocked the whole nation,” Villanueva said. “That evening I said we will find this man and I can report today, we have found our suspect. That worst of humanity was followed by the best of humanity.”
Villanueva said that the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department came together to investigate and search for Murray after the unprovoked attack on the two deputies. He added that having all the people — from the “mega wealthy” to the “common man” — expressing their support for the deputies displayed the best of humanity, noting that two kids in Santa Clarita, California, set up a “pop stand” to raise money to donate in support of the deputies.
Both deputies remain in stable condition and are recovering at home. They each still have several more surgeries to undergo, according to Villanueva, and he expects that they will return to work after they have fully recovered.
Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.
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