Two Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office deputies were ambushed and shot in Compton in mid-September. They remain hospitalized while the search for the gunman continues. Now Sheriff Alex Villanueva has challenged Los Angeles Lakers player LeBron James to pitch in and match the reward money.
Sheriff Villanueva issued the challenge during a radio interview. He said that he knows James cares about law enforcement and that a good way to show his support would be to pitch in on the reward. Additionally, the sheriff also said we need to appreciate "that respect for life goes across all professions." James previously drew attention with tweets condemning police misconduct, as well as those saying that "we're literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes."
The two deputies were shot in an unprovoked ambush near the Metro Compton Blue Line station at Willowbrook Avenue and Elm Street. An unidentified gunman approached the patrol car and opened fire before running away. "Two deputies shot in the head…bleeding out," one of the wounded deputies said to dispatch. One of the deputies remains hospitalized while the other is recovering at home following his release from the hospital. The gunman remains at large, prompting the offer of reward money and the subsequent challenge to the Los Angeles Lakers player.
When the violent incident occurred, Conservative author, Candace Owens called out James and said that his "rhetoric" was to blame for the shooting. "Why does this happen? Because pea-brained celebrities that are idolized like [LeBron James] tell young black men that they are 'literally being hunted'. This is the natural result of such hyperbolic, dishonest rhetoric. The racist, anti-police, black lives matter LIE is to blame," Owens tweeted.
James ultimately faced questions about Villanueva's challenge following a game against the Denver Nuggets. He said that he has "zero comment" about the sheriff but declared that he has never condoned violence. "And I'm not saying that all cops are bad because, I actually throughout high school and things of that nature," James said. "I'm around them all the time and they're not all bad."
Following the shooting in Compton, a member of the law enforcement community started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the injured deputies. The organizer set an initial goal of $850,000 and said that the unions' relief fund would distribute the money directly to the deputies. The campaign has raised more than $761,000 dollars.