An off-duty deputy who was critically wounded after he was shot in the head on Monday while waiting in line at a fast-food restaurant may have been targeted.
The Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was in civilian clothes when he was shot shortly before 6pm at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Alhambra, an eastern Los Angeles suburb, sheriff’s officials said at a news conference.
‘The deputy is currently in critical condition and he needs our prayers … to see whether he can pull through,’ Sheriff Alex Villanueva said while standing outside the County-USC Medical Center, where the deputy is hospitalized.
Villanueva didn’t release the deputy’s name.
But officials did say that they are investigating whether or not the deputy was targeted by the suspect.
‘There doesn’t appear to be an overt motive’ based on security video footage, sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Capt Kent Wegener said.
He said the deputy walked into the restaurant and ordered food.
The deputy was standing at the counter waiting for the food when the gunman approached him and shot him once in the head, then left immediately, Wegener said.
‘He was off-duty, in civilian clothes. There was nothing overtly that would indicate he was a law enforcement officer,’ Wegener said.
There were several customers inside the restaurant during the shooting, officers said.
Authorities are looking for a gunman who was seen driving away in a 2006 white Kia Sorento SUV with paper plates.
Police said the man is more than likely still armed with the handgun used in the shooting.
The man was wearing a fedora hat when he fled but changed his clothes, authorities said.
After the shooting, the suspect stopped in a residential neighborhood and removed the hat and his short sleeve burgundy shirt.
He then changed into a black T-shirt and dark jeans before driving away in the same car.
The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male between 20-30 years old.
Sheriff Villanueva tweeted Monday night: ‘Whomever carried out this cowardly attack; we won’t rest until we find you and ensure justice is brought swiftly upon you.’