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Man charged with attempted murder of 10 Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies

Suspect arrested
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies take shooting suspect Juan Martinez into custody.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

An ex-convict has been charged with trying to kill 10 Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at a DUI checkpoint last week and then taking a man hostage in a standoff in Bellflower, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Juan Manuel Martinez, 39, of Burbank, faces more than a dozen felony counts, including 10 counts of attempted murder of a peace officer; false imprisonment of a hostage; dissuading a witness by threat of force; and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Martinez, who has previously been convicted of grand theft and drug charges, has been ordered held on $11-million bail. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges.

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Martinez’s crime rampage began at about 10:50 p.m. Thursday with a shooting in the 9000 block of Oak Street, close to where deputies were operating a DUI checkpoint, authorities said.  

Martinez had passed through the checkpoint, but was pulled over shortly afterward by a motorcycle officer, according to Capt. Christopher Reed. 

Martinez stepped out with a gun and opened fire, striking the deputy “multiple times,” sheriff’s officials said in a prepared statement. The deputy returned fire. Martinez was not injured.

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After abandoning his vehicle, Martinez fired at four other deputies who were trying to help the injured deputy, authorities said. 

As Martinez ran away, he fired at a second set of deputies, injuring another deputy near Lisa and Laurel streets, according to officials. 

Another shooting occurred as Martinez continued to flee, but no one was hit, authorities said.

Martinez escaped and hid in a guest home behind an apartment in the 9000 block of Mayne Street; he was holed up with a male hostage for eight hours, according to officials.

By Friday morning, a SWAT team using tear gas forced its way inside the small structure. The hostage was not harmed, and Martinez was arrested, authorities said.

“This is an individual who throughout the night attempted to murder a number of our deputies,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at news conference after the shootings.

The injured deputies, Christopher Allende and Chad Vandenberg, were taken to area hospitals, where they received medical care.

According to a GoFundMe account set up to help Vandenberg’s family, the father of four was shot in shoulder.

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“Lakewood Station would like to thank Department members, the various public safety agencies, and the public for their tremendous outpouring of support and concern they have shown for their deputies as they recover from their injuries,” the station said on Facebook.

 If Martinez is convicted of the charges, he faces up to life in state prison.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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