Los Angeles, CA - The split-second decision of three Los Angeles County deputies likely saved the life of a four-year-old boy after an East Compton gang shooting, according to KTLA.
The incident occurred just before noon on Wednesday near Atlantic Avenue and Compton Boulevard.
Captain Michael Thatcher of the Compton Sheriff's Station said that LA County Sheriff's Deputy Art Gonzalez, Deputy Sergio Jimenez, and Deputy Brian Reza, responded to a shooting, where a fistfight turned into a gunfight.
Upon arrival, the deputies found a sedan with the boy, still in his car seat, unresponsive. His mother and another child were also in the vehicle.
Deputy Gonzalez said that the boy, whose name was not released, had a gunshot wound to his head from a stray bullet. Deputy Gonzalez began helping the victim, and once it was realized how badly the little boy was injured, the three deputies made a decision to transport him to St. Francis Medical Center using their cruiser and not wait for paramedics.
Deputy Jimenez drove, Deputy Reza stayed at the scene, and Deputy Gonzalez picked up the child. Deputy Gonzalez said, “I unbuckled him from his child seat and cradled him. I’m talking to the child, just telling him to hang in there. … That’s all I remember.” Deputy Jimenez then rushed to the hospital, which is about three miles away.
Dr. Edward Kwon, an emergency room physician with the hospital, said that they had received advance notice that the officers were coming and were prepared for the child's arrival. He said that 'the child was not breathing and was in critical arrival when he arrived'.
He said that an airway was established, and once the child was 'stabilized' he was transferred to a Long Beach hospital where he remains hospitalized.
Dr. Kwon said, "Their quick thinking and quick judgment in a time of extreme emotion to contribute to delivering rapid care." All three deputies said that they 'had families of their own', and that the situation 'moved them'.
Captain Thatcher said, “It also serves as a brutal reminder to these deputies … of what a day’s work can entail. These deputies showed up to work early this morning after living the event they lived yesterday."
The condition of the child is not officially known but the Sheriff's Department said that he was stable as of Wednesday night.