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Los Angeles authorities have 'promising leads' in search for gunman who ambushed two sheriff's deputies, offer $175K reward

Authorities said Monday they have "promising leads" in the search for a gunman who shot two Los Angeles County deputies in an apparent ambush on a parked sheriff's vehicle.

"We are working on promising leads — I’ll leave it that. We think we will have our hands on who did it soon enough," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told NBC4 during a Monday night interview.

Officials asked the public to help identify the gunman, offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. That number has since grown to $175,000 after two private donors donated money for the search, Villanueva told KABC Radio on Monday.

During the interview, Villanueva also challenged Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James to match the amount, citing James' support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Officers have only a “very, very generic description” of the shooter to go on, officials said.

The Sheriff’s Department released video of the incident, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the deputies, a 31-year-old female and a 24-year-old male, were shot multiple times but were able to radio for help.

The shooting came hours after hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest the death of Dijon Kizzee, who was shot by members of the Sheriff's Department. The department has been accused during protests of racism and police brutality, but it’s unclear whether that was a factor in the shooting. 

“Of course, there’s an important conversation going on about policing in this country, but these are folks who put their lives on the line for us, and we will find justice for them,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on CNN Sunday.

Here's what we know Monday:

Surveillance video shows apparent ambush

Surveillance video released by police shows a person walk up to the patrol car parked near a Metro station in Compton at around 7 p.m. Saturday. The person shoots with a handgun through the passenger-side window "without warning or provocation," according to the department.

An extended version of the video reviewed by the Los Angeles Times shows the shooter fleeing the scene in the direction from which he came. He turns a corner out of the frame, past a second figure on the sidewalk, according to the Times. It’s unclear whether the second person was involved in the shooting. A Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

The passenger door of the patrol car opened, and a deputy stumbled out, hand on head, according to the newspaper. Soon after that, the driver’s-side door opened.

President Donald Trump posted the video from the shooting on Twitter, commenting, "Animals that must be hit hard!"

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted, “This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice. Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished.”

Two deputies are expected to recover

The deputies, who graduated together from the sheriff’s academy 14 months ago, were hospitalized in critical condition at St. Francis Medical Center Saturday evening. They underwent surgery and were expected to recover, Villanueva said Sunday.

“They performed in an admirable fashion in spite of grave adversity,” Villanueva said during a conversation with religious leaders. “God bless them, it looks like they’re going to be able to recover.”

Reporter arrested during protest outside hospital

After Villanueva's news conference, a handful of protesters gathered outside the hospital where the injured deputies were being treated. Videos from the scene recorded at least one person in the crowd yelling, “I hope they ... die.”

Deputies issued a dispersal order over the "unlawful assembly" of the protesters who blocked the hospital's emergency entrance and exits, according to the Sheriff's Department. Two people were arrested, including a woman who was later identified as a member of the media.

The Sheriff’s Department tweeted that the radio reporter interfered with the arrest of a male protester. She did not identify herself as a member of the media and did not have proper media credentials, the department said.

Josie Huang, a reporter for public radio station KPCC, a National Public Radio affiliate, said on Twitter she had covered the sheriff’s news conference and returned to the hospital after hearing protesters shouting. She was wearing her press pass, she said.

“I was filming an arrest when suddenly deputies shout ‘back up.’ Within seconds, I was getting shoved around. There was nowhere to back up,” Huang said on Twitter. In a video, Huang can be heard shouting, “I’m a reporter ... I’m with KPCC” as she falls to the ground.

The executive editor of the station, Megan Garvey, expressed outrage over the arrest and said her reporter appeared to be wearing her credentials and had shouted her KPCC affiliation. NPR’s Editorial Director Nancy Barnes said the network was “appalled” by the arrest of a reporter doing her job.

The office of the Los Angeles County Inspector General, which oversees investigations and actions of the Sheriff’s Department, opened an investigation into the reporter’s arrest.

Hundreds gathered before the shooting to protest Kizzee's death

Hours earlier, at least 200 people protested 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 said the deputies shot Kizzee in the back when he was unarmed.

Contributing: Jessica Flores, John Bacon and Charles Ventura, USA TODAY; The Associated Press