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Suspect Charged In Ambush Shooting Of Two LA Sheriff's Deputies

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva addressed the news media hours after two of his deputies were shot multiple times in Compton on Saturday, Sept. 12. (Josie Huang/LAist)
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A Compton man who was arrested two weeks ago for carjacking has been charged with attempted murder in the Sept. 12 ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies as they sat in their parked car at a metro station.

Deonte Lee Murray, 36, was scheduled for arraignment in Compton today, District Attorney Jackie Lacey told a news conference. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, she said.

When asked what authorities know about a possible motive for the ambush, Sheriff's Capt. Kent Wegener, head of the homicide bureau, said, "Other than the fact that he obviously hates policemen and he wants them dead, not specifically."

Murray was already in custody facing attempted murder, robbery and carjacking charges for allegedly stealing a black Mercedes Benz sedan on Sept. 1, Lacey said. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and has remained behind bars.

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Investigators had identified Murray as the suspect in the Sept. 1 carjacking, and as a potential suspect in the ambush at the Willowbrook Metro station, Wegener said. Deputies arrested Murray Sept. 15 after a chase that ended with him surrounded in a residential Compton neighborhood.

During that chase, Murray threw a pistol out of his car, Wegener said. It was recovered, and was found to be a 40 caliber "ghost gun" with eight bullets, five short of capacity — the same number of shots fired at the two deputies, he said.

Ballistics tests determined that it was the gun used in the ambush, and forensic tests "conclusively linked" the weapon to Murray, Wegener said. Other video evidence showed that Murray was in the area of the ambush "a period of time prior to the shooting," he added.

Murray has a criminal record that includes convictions for burglary, terrorist threats, drug sales and illegal possession of firearms, Wegener said. He said authorities are not releasing a photo of Murray because they're still interviewing witnesses, and because the judge in Murray's carjacking case ordered that his photo not be released.

Murray "is associated with a couple of different gangs," Wegener said, while declining to name the gangs.

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Despite authorities saying they're unsure about a motive for the ambush, Sheriff Alex Villanueva put the incident in the context of an "overall increase in brazen attacks on law enforcement," as well as incidents during the protests of recent months in which he said some people threw rocks and bottles at officers.

The two deputies who were shot, a 31-year-old female and a 24-year-old male, are both recovering at home, Villanueva said. They both face a lot of reconstructive surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation, but they're "fortunately doing ok," he said.

This story has been updated.

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