Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Deputies' ‘Split-Second Decision' Likely Saved Life of 4-Year-Old Boy Struck by Stray Bullet in Compton

Deputies carried the boy, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, to the hospital in their patrol car

A suspect was in custody Thursday in a shooting that left a 4-year-old boy in critical condition, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said at a news conference with deputies whose quick actions likely saved the child's life.

Details about the arrest and the suspect's identity were not released. Authorities said there might be more arrests in the case. 

The announcement came at a news conference Thursday at which deputies credited with saving the child's life spoke about their response to the shooting call in Compton.

Deputy Austreberto Gonzalez arrived at the scene to find his partner speaking with the mother of a 4-year-old boy who had been struck in the head by a stray bullet. The deputies then made a "split-second" decision that likely saved the boy's life. 

"Based on severity of wounds, it would be better to transport him by patrol car," said Gonzalez. "It was a combined effort from everybody. Our air unit, our dispatchers and the hospital. We got there and they were waiting for us."

Jimenez, using street-by-street guidance from the department's helicopter unit, drove the patrol car with Gonzalez in the passenger's seat and the child in the back seat. Deputy Brian Reza stayed with the boy's mother at the crime scene before she was brought to the hospital in another patrol car. 

"It was a split-second decision," said Sheriff's Capt. Michael Thatcher. "They had an idea of what they needed to do and they did it."

A doctor described their time of arrival at the hospital as "incredibly quick."

"You want to drive quickly, but very safely to get him there in one piece," said Jimenez, who is expecting a baby any day. "It was a relief to get there and pass him over to the hospital staff."

The shooting occurred about 11:45 a.m. at Compton Boulevard and Lime Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Investigators told reporters at the scene that the boy was in the back seat of his mother's vehicle when he was struck by the stray bullet.

Three men were arguing with two others outside a liquor store when at least one of them pulled a gun and six shots were fired, investigators said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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