Los Angeles

2 Deputies Hurt in Fatal Shootout in East LA ‘Doing Well'

"This was a gun fight out there tonight from what I was told."

Two deputies hurt in a fatal East Los Angeles park shootout Wednesday evening were recovering Thursday as authorities released the identities of the suspects.

"Our deputies thankfully are doing well today," Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a Thursday news conference.

The three men with documented ties to gangs, who were accused of brandishing a gun and asking where someone was from before the fatal shootout with deputies, were identified Thursday.

The driver and alleged shooter was identified as Rene Herrera, 39. Herrera, who authorities said had "an extensive criminal history," died at the scene and a gun was recovered from beneath him.

Fernando Cruz, 18, an alleged passenger in the car, was shot and in the hospital in critical condition.

Hector Martinez, 18, allegedly ran from the car during the shootout and was ultimately arrested without incident, according to the LA County Sheriff's department. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer.

Deputies responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon Wednesday night after the group of men allegedly brandished a gun and asked where someone was from at 6:20 p.m. in the area of 6th Street and Bonny Beach Place.

The deputies followed the car matching the description to Salazar Park, close to the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and South Indiana Street. 

"They approached the vehicle, and as they got out of the black and whites, they were fired upon," McDonnell said. "Both deputies sustained gunshot wounds."

McDonnell added, "This was a gun fight out there tonight from what I was told."

More deputies arrived and Herrera was shot and killed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed. 

The two wounded officers were rushed to LA County USC Medical Center, the LA County Sheriff's headquarters said. McDonnell said that both men were in serious but stable condition Wednesday evening.

McDonnell provided updates in a news conference outside the hospital at approximately 8:45 p.m. Wednesday night, confirming a search was ongoing for a possible fourth man involved. However, the LASD later determined that there was no fourth shooter.

McDonnell said the deputies, who he described as veterans with more than 10 years of experience each, suffered injuries to their upper bodies, but the sheriff had spoken to both of his deputies prior to speaking with reporters.

Though the identities of the deputies were not revealed, McDonnell said Thursday their families joined them at the hospital where they were recovering well. One who had been shot in the upper chest area was released. 

The deputy shot in the jaw was still recovering in the hospital. 

During the Thursday news conference, McDonnell also addressed the accusation by LA County Sheriff candidate Alex Villanueva that the shooting was worsened by staffing, as a technician in training was in the sheriff's vehicle and ducked for cover during the shootout.

"That is disgusting," he said. "To think he is laying this on the backs of deputies out there doing their jobs, blaming someone other than the predators out there on the street. This is not about politics, this is not about staffing -- this is about our deputy sheriffs going out there putting themselves between the public and harm."

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call "Crime Stoppers" by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the "P3 Tips" Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

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