A California man claimed he is receiving death threats because he was blamed for a shooting that left two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies injured.
The shooting occurred on Saturday, outside of a metro station in Compton, reported The Los Angeles Times. The deputies, a man and woman, were sitting in a patrol car when the shooter approached the passenger side window “and opened fire without warning or provocation,” according to LASD. Both deputies were struck in the head and had to undergo surgery. They are expected to make a full recovery.
Social media users began to share post implicating Compton resident Darnell Hicks for the attack. Some of the post included Hicks’ driver’s license picture, his home address and license plate number.
It is unclear how the users concluded Hicks was involved. LASD only identified the suspect as a “dark skinned male” and video footage depicting the incident is grainy. Hicks bears the same name as a Compton drug dealer character in the 2009 crime novel “The Scarecrow.” The book’s character is from the fictional Rosadia Gardens public housing complex. This week’s social media posts identified the real Darnell Hicks as being from Avalon Gardens, a an actual L.A. housing complex.
“The description was a Black male, so it could happen to anybody,” Hicks told KTLA. On the day of the shooting, he was out dirt biking when he began receiving concerned texts from his contacts. Hicks initially thought he was being pranked.
LASD cleared Hicks’ name via Twitter on Monday.
“Currently, there is a social media post that is being circulated which identifies a male out of the Los Angeles area as the suspect responsible for the ambush of our 2 deputies yesterday. This is ERRONEOUS information and there are no named or wanted suspects at this time,” the department wrote.
Despite the correction, Hicks has received death threats from “mad about the situation.”
“I have two daughters,” he told KTLA. “I don’t even feel safe taking them out no more.”
Hicks is also worried about the rumor’s potential effect on his business dealings.
“I’ve got my own clothing line. I do a lot of business on my own,” he added. “People looking at me differently now.”
Brian Dunn, a lawyer representing Hicks, said his client was “thrown into this pit for nothing other than the color of his skin.”
Hicks said he is praying for the injured deputies and warned other Black men to watch their backs.
“For any other Black man out there, just be aware,” he said. “The description was a Black male.”
The shooter has not been apprehended.