SOUTH EL MONTE – Officials are seeking a jail escapee and his wife after they wounded a sheriff’s deputy with a shotgun Sunday in the midst of a violent crime spree, authorities said.
The deputy was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released from a hospital later in the day, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said.
The suspects, identified by sheriff’s officials as Darnell Washington, 24, and his wife, Tania Washington, 25, remained at large Sunday night.
Darnell Washington escaped from the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center in Devore Tuesday, with help from his wife, sheriff’s officials said.
In addition to the attack on the deputy, they were believed to be linked to a series of carjackings, including one about 45 minutes after the shooting in South Gate, Parker said.
The shooting took place just before 9 a.m. at a 7-Eleven store at Durfee Avenue and Michael Hunt Drive.
A deputy assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station, which patrols South El Monte, saw a Nissan Armada pull into the parking lot of the convenience store and found it suspicious, Parker said. The deputy ran the Armada’s license plate and determined it was reported, “armed and dangerous,” prompting him to call for backup from additional deputies.
Before help arrived, however, “The suspects came out of the store, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” Parker said. “Gunfire was exchanged between at least one suspect and the deputy.”
It was not clear if either of the suspects was wounded by the deputy’s gunfire.
The suspects then fled in the Nissan Armada they arrived in, which was initially believed to have been carjacked.
About 45 minutes later, the suspects abandoned the Nissan in South Gate, where they carjacked a minivan.
The carjacked minivan the suspects were last seen in was described as a light blue, 1996 Plymouth Voyager with a California license plate number of 3PHK484.
Deputies were also investigating the suspects in connection with other area carjackings.
“Frankly, these two suspects are responsible for a crime spree, and a violent one at that,” Parker said.
Anyone who spots them was advised to call 9-1-1 immediately, but not approach them.
“They’re considered armed and extremely dangerous,” Parker said. “We very much want to get them into custody before they hurt someone else.”
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department