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Police: Men in fatal LA police shootout were gang members

LOS ANGELES – the Three men involved in a shootout that injured the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are documented gang members, detectives said Thursday.

The deputies were injured Wednesday evening while responding to calls that three men in a car were pulling up to people and ask what gang they are in while waving a gun in an East Los Angeles park, said sheriff’s Lt. Scott Hoglund.

Three of the sheriff’s cars arrived, Hoglund said the black BMW and the men were abruptly stopped, and the driver got out and started shooting at the deputies.

Deputies returned fire, killing the driver, who, as a 39-year-old Rene Herrera.

Another suspected member of the gang, an 18-year-old Fernando Cruz, was also shot and was in critical condition. The third accused member of the gang, an 18-year-old Hector Martinez, was booked on suspicion of attempted murder. It is unclear whether he has a lawyer.

One of the deputies was shot in the upper body and has been treated and released from the hospital. The other assistant, who was shot in the jaw, remained in the hospital and was expected to survive.

Three other deputies and other sheriff’s employee on a ride-along in one of the patrol cars as part of her training were unharmed.

Discussion of the duel turned political as Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s opponent in the upcoming elections in November, held a press conference Thursday to say that the understaffing at the department was a factor in the shooting and the post of deputy’s life is in danger.

Candidate Alex Villanueva pointed to the unarmed sheriff of the worker, who is in one of the patrol cars with a solo-alternate.

“Now that the deputy is actually faced with a dilemma of actually handling the problem in front of them, but they have also to the protection of the life of the person with him, who is not armed (or) prepared the crisis in front of them,” Villanueva said.

McDonnell responded at his own press conference, calling his opponent’s criticism terribly.

“That is disgusting to think that he lays it on the back of the delegates who are there doing their job and blaming something other than the predators that are there on the street who took on these deputies who put themselves between the public and the people who try to prey on the public,” McDonnell said.

He added that “this is not about politics, not about the headcount.”

He said that the unarmed dispatcher in the patrol car was on a routine ride-along — her third as a standard part of the training, and Villanueva “know that.” He said that she was with only one deputy as a second deputy was sick that day.

McDonnell has previously said unbudgeted overtime and difficulty in attracting recruits to the middle of the increased police investigation have caused vacancies within the department.

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