LOS ANGELES — Authorities were searching Sunday for the gunman who shot two sheriff’s deputies in an apparent ambush, hours after hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest the shooting death of Dijon Kizzee by members of the Sheriff’s Department.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressed frustration over anti-police sentiment and urged people to pray for the officers.
“It pisses me off,” he said of the shooting. “This was a cowardly act.”
The Sheriff’s Department released video that shows someone walking up to a patrol car parked near a Metro station in Compton about 7 p.m. Saturday. The person opens fire and runs from the scene. Villanueva said the deputies, a 31-year-old female and a 24-year-old male, were shot multiple times but able to radio for help.
Both were hospitalized in critical condition at St. Francis Medical Center.
“They performed in an admirable fashion in spite of grave adversity,” Villanueva said Sunday during a conversation with local religious leaders. “God bless them, it looks like they’re going to be able to recover.”
Villanueva’s press conference at the hospital a few hours later drew more protests.
The department tweeted: “To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling ‘We hope they die’ referring to 2 LA Sheriff’s ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People’s lives are at stake when ambulances can’t get through.”
Deputies issued a dispersal order for the “unlawful assembly” of the protesters for blocking the hospital’s emergency entrance and exits, the Sheriff’s Department said. Two people were arrested, including someone later determined to be a member of the media.
“A male adult protester refused to comply and cooperate,” the department said in a statement. “During his arrest, a struggle ensued at which time a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest.”
The woman, later identified as Josie Huang, a public radio reporter for KPCC and LAist, did not identify herself as a member of the media and did not have proper press credentials, the statement said.
LAist reported that Huang’s phone continued to film after it was knocked out of her hand. In the video, Huang repeatedly identified herself as a journalist and can be heard yelling, “You’re hurting me,” LAist reported. She wearing a lanyard with a press credential, the outlet said.
Video by ABC7 shows about five officers holding Huang to the ground as they handcuff her before taking her to a patrol car. Huang, cited for obstruction, was released Sunday morning.
President Donald Trump posted the video from the shooting on Twitter, commenting: “Animals that must be hit hard!”
Both the wounded deputies graduated from the academy 14 months ago, Villanueva said. Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said officers were blanketing the area in search of the suspect.
“We have a very, very generic description,” he said.
Hours earlier, at least 200 people gathered to protest the fatal shooting of Kizzee, a Black man who was riding a bicycle when deputies attempted to stop him for an unspecified code violation. The Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that Kizzee abandoned the bike and fled on foot when he saw a sheriff’s cruiser make a U-turn and head toward him.
When the deputies encountered him a few blocks away, the department said, Kizzee punched a deputy in the face. A black semiautomatic handgun fell to the ground when Kizzee dropped his jacket. Thinking he was reaching for the gun, deputies fired, according to the statement.
A grainy video released by lawyers for Kizzee’s family shows a scuffle and a person running away. Deputies were at a distance from Kizzee when they fired.
Community activists and family members say the deputies shot Kizzee in the back when he was unarmed.
Bacon reported from Arlington, Va. Contributing: Chris Woodyard, Jessica Flores
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Los Angeles County deputies shot; manhunt underway; hospital protest