On the evening of September 12, 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Claudia Apolinar and her partner were settling in for their shift at the Metro Blue Line Station in Compton. The pair sat in their SUV and stood watch, ensuring the safety of the people coming and going.
Just a short time into their shift an unidentified person walks up to the SUV and opens fire into the passenger side window, the person runs from the scene.
Apolinar and her partner immediately got out of their SUV and took cover near the train station’s steel columns. Both had been shot multiple times.
Steve spoke exclusively with Deputy Apolinar. She tells him how seconds after being shot she went into survival mode. Apolinar says it wasn’t clear if there was more than one shooter or if the shooter was still close by. Watch the Spanish-language version of the interview with KMEX-TV Reporter Oswaldo Borraez. Steve and Oswaldo spent more than an hour speaking with Apolinar.
Apolinar says she tried to call for help on her radio but was unable to speak. She said after feeling the warmth of her blood on her face and neck she realized one of the bullets had severed her tongue. She was able to press the all-call orange emergency button on her radio.
Apolinar had only been with the department for 14 months when she and her partner were shot. She credits her training for getting her through the harrowing experience. She said when she realized she was going to survive she wanted to focus her attention on her partner, who needed a tourniquet. She pulled her partner to safety where they waited for help to arrive.
The deputies were rushed to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. Both were awake when they arrived, and Deputy Apolinar says she was worried about her family who was not aware of what had happened. She says detectives were able to reach her husband who was taken to the hospital.
Apolinar also tells Steve her thoughts about the controversial anti-deputy protest that happened outside the hospital.
Sheriff Villanueva held a press conference in the parking lot of the hospital. The sheriff was wearing a ballistic vest because he said the shooter was still on the loose and he wasn’t sure if there was a bigger threat against his department.
Both deputies would go on to endure months of recovery.
Officials called the search for the shooter one of the largest manhunts in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. And not only was the sheriff’s department on high alert, but every law enforcement agency in Southern California was also helping to find the person seen on surveillance video shooting into the patrol SUV.
A large reward was being offered and it continued to grow. The story of the shooting went around the world and the shocking video of a brazen ambush of deputies captured the interest of people from all walks of life.
A big break in the case happened when deputies were alerted to carjacking that resulted in a brief car chase. The chase ended in a neighborhood in Lynwood - the carjacking suspect ran into a home and barricaded himself until a sheriff’s SWAT team arrived.
The carjacking suspect ended up also being the person investigators suspected of shooting the 2 deputies. The man would later be charged with the attempted murder of both deputies.
Pictures courtesy of LASD and Steve Gregory
EPISODE 110 OF "UNSOLVED WITH STEVE GREGORY" AIRS ON KFI-AM 640 THIS SATURDAY, MARCH 26TH FROM 8 PM - 10 PM