COMPTON, Calif. – A California man was convicted of trying to murder two deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in an ambush attack in September 2020 as well as two other victims during violent crimes, according to reports.
Deonte Lee Murray, 39, of Compton, faces a possible life sentence after he was convicted by a jury on 10 counts, including attempted murder and carjacking, for opening fire on two deputies sitting in their patrol unit outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Transit Center on Sept. 12, 2020, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced last week, according to KTLA.
Both deputies sustained serious wounds and were hospitalized in a case that gained national prominence amid ongoing riots following the death of George Floyd earlier in the year. During the manhunt, then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva referred to Murray as a “coward.”
In addition to the attack on the deputies, Murray “unloaded over and over again” by firing upon a man outside the Compton Courthouse he mistakenly believed was a detective in an unmarked car on Sept. 10, 2020, then driving away in a black Mercedes-Benz that had been carjacked nine days earlier from a man who was shot in the leg with a rifle, Deputy District Attorney Stephen Lonseth told jurors, FOX 11 Los Angeles reported.
Villanueva blamed celebrities and politicians for “fanning the flames of hatred” toward law enforcement after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.
Before Murray’s capture, the former sheriff challenged Lakers star LeBron James, a vocal critic of law enforcement officers, to donate to the fund being raised for information leading to Murray’s arrest.
Murray was finally captured Sept. 15, 2020, after leading officers in a vehicle pursuit in which he tossed a gun from the Toyota Solara he was driving, before abandoning the vehicle and running into a neighborhood, where he was found hiding beneath a chicken coop in a resident’s back yard, the prosecutor said.
In addition to being found guilty for two counts of attempted murder involving the deputies, Murray was also convicted of one count each of attempted murder for the civilians that he shot, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, carjacking and robbery, as well as four counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, FOX 11 reported.
Murray was later stunned when he learned that he did not kill the deputies, who were subsequently identified as Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez, DDA Lonseth said.
The prosecutor told the jury that Murray “did everything he could to end the lives of Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez,” saying that “this wasn’t some impulsive thing.”
“They’re alive because of frankly a miracle,” Lonseth said, citing the “heroic actions” of Apolinar in trying to aid her partner despite being wounded herself in the jaw and arms.
Both deputies attended the trial and offered persuasive testimony against Murray.
Apolinar testified that she experienced a “warm sensation in my mouth” after she was shot, and attempted to speak using her police radio to report what had transpired.
The jury heard her say that she felt her tongue flapping around in her mouth and that the dispatcher was unable to understand her call for help.
“I knew I was hit in the mouth,” Apolinar, the mother of a then 6- year-old child, told the attentive jury.
She subsequently tried to assist her partner, who was struggling to put a tourniquet on after she saw his face and right arm covered in blood.
“I didn’t know where the suspect was at, if he was going to come back,” the deputy testified, while also telling the jury that neither she nor her partner ever had a chance to return fire.
Apolinar later learned that one round struck her in the jaw and “nearly cut my tongue off.” She also suffered gunshot wounds to both of her arms, which were broken in the shooting. She carries permanent scars on her arms and face as a result of the ambush attack.
On a happier note, she returned to work at the sheriff’s department last September and proudly wore her uniform to court.
Perez-Perez sustained wounds to the forehead and arms as a result of the visceral, hateful attack.
Murray’s attorney, Kate Hardie, sought sympathy from the jurors as she said her client’s actions were “impulsive” and fueled by alcohol, methamphetamine and grief over his best friend’s death, a person who was fatally shot by LASD deputies two days prior to his vengeful attack.