Los Angeles County: Compton man in custody charged in deputy ambush shootings

Compton suspect pleads not guilty to two attempted murder counts

By Nathaniel Percy and Josh Cain | Staff writers

A 36-year-old Compton man, already in custody on suspicion of an armed carjacking, was named Wednesday as the suspect in the shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies as they sat in their black-and-white near a Compton Metro Station last month.

Deonte Lee Murray, 36, has been charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer in connection with the brazen Sept. 12 attack, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday in Compton Superior Court.

In the shooting caught on surveillance video, both deputies were shot up close and struck in the head by gunfire and were hospitalized in serious condition. They have since been released.

Lacey said she believed Murray targeted the two deputies because they are law enforcement.

“They became victims of a violent crime for one reason: They were doing their job and they were wearing a badge,” she said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva comments on the investigation of the shooting of two deputies during a Sept. 17 news conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said both deputies have a long road to recovery. One is 24 years old and the other a 31-year-old mother. Both graduated from the academy 14 months before.

Two weeks after he allegedly confronted a man in Compton, shot him in the leg and stole his vehicle, Murray was arrested and jailed on Sept. 15 for those crimes with law enforcement showing up in big numbers.

At the scene, Villanueva told reporters there was not a strong connection between Murray and the ambush, which had occurred just three days before. On Wednesday, he said the agency had its suspicions but not evidence.

But detectives later tied Murray to the deputies’ shooting after learning the getaway vehicle may have been the same one that was carjacked, a black Mercedes-Benz, sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said Wednesday.

Just hours before the shooting, a black Mercedes was seen on surveillance footage near the Compton train station.

Further, the suspect’s appearance seemed to match who detectives saw on the surveillance footage, heightening the possibility of Murray’s involvement, Wegener said. When captured on Sept. 15, Murray was in a different car and threw a pistol out of a window while fleeing deputies, Wegener said. That weapon was found by authorities and determined through ballistics testing to be the weapon used to shoot the deputies.

The gun was found with eight rounds, five bullets short of a full magazine, Wegener said. Five shots had been fired at the two deputies.

Murray was linked to the weapon through forensics testing, he said.

Wegener said Wednesday that at the time of Murray’s Sept. 15 arrest, there just wasn’t any evidence to tie him to the ambush of the deputies and “to label him in the media as the person responsible.”

Murray also faces allegations of association with a criminal street gang, discharging a rifle inflicting great bodily injury and personal use of a rifle in the carjacking incident. In the carjacking, which took place in Compton, the victim was shot in a leg.

Murray’s bail was set at $6.2 million. He faces a maximum possible sentence of life in state prison if convicted as charged.

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  • Posted On: 10/1/2020 12:16:14 PM
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