A youth football coach and father of two from the Compton, California, says he has been receiving death threats after being falsely accused on social media of being the gunman who shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies last weekend.
Darnell Hicks, 33, spoke out for the first time about his ordeal on Monday, telling KTLA that when he first began receiving text messages from acquaintances containing screenshots of a ‘be on the lookout’ (BOLO) alert that has been circulating on social media containing his driver’s license photo, name and address, he initially mistook it for a prank.
The post characterized Hicks as ‘armed and dangerous’ and falsely claimed that he was wanted for attempted murder in connection to the ambush shooting of two LA County deputies at the Compton Metro station on Saturday evening.
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Darnell Hicks, 33, a father-of-two from Compton, California, says he has been getting death threats after being falsely accused on social media of shooting two LA County deputies
This ‘be on the lookout’ alert containing Hicks’ photo, name, address and driver’s license number, falsely claimed that he is wanted to attempted murder
Online users have been circulating false information about Hicks’ involvement in the ambush
‘This suspect has vowed to shoot more law enforcement officers,’ the BOLO proclaimed.
Two LA County sheriff’s deputies were sitting in their patrol vehicle near the train station just before 7pm on Saturday when a gunman walked up to them and shot both officers at point blank range.
One of the deputies, identified by DailyMail.com as Claudia Apolinar, a 31-year-old former librarian and mother-of-one, was shot multiple times, including in the jaw and torso, but was able to get her 24-year-old partner to safety and call for help. Both deputies are currently being treated at a hospital and are expected to survive.
As of Tuesday morning, authorities have not identified the suspect in the shooting, who was only described as a ‘dark-skinned male.’ The LA Sheriff’s Department is offering $100,000 for information leading to an arrest.
At around 7pm on Saturday, a man ran up to an LA County Sheriff’s patrol vehicle and opened fire, shooting two deputies inside at point blank range
The shooter, described as a ‘dark-skinned’ male has not been identified as of Tuesday
Hicks said he was out dirt-biking all day on Saturday and had nothing to do with the ambush, but that did not stop social media users from pointing a finger at him and publicizing his name, photo and driver’s license number as if he were a suspect.
‘Any person would suffer greatly when falsely accused of a crime, especially a crime as heinous as this,’ said attorney Brian Dunn, from the Cochran Group, whom Hicks has retained after realizing the gravity of the situation.
After learning of the unfounded rumors circulating on social media naming Hicks as a suspect, the LA County Sheriff’s Office tweeted on Sunday that the information was ‘ERRONEOUS.’
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke out again on Monday, seeking to put the false claims to rest.
Hicks is a youth football coach and has his own clothing line. He says he spent the whole day Saturday dirt-biking
The LA County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday tweeted that information identifying a man in the LA area as the shooting suspect is erroneous
Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Monday stressed during a briefing that the rumors were unfounded
‘There was some bad information floating around yesterday about a suspect,’ Villanueva said during a press briefing. ‘All that information is false.’
But for Hicks, a small business owner, youth football coach and the father of two daughters, the damage has already been done.
After being targeted with death threats, Hicks said he is afraid to take his children outside, and he believes that people look at him differently now.
His attorney said that no one has taken responsibility for painting his client as a would-be cop killer for no reason other than the color of his skin.
Hicks sent a prayer to the two deputies recovering from their injuries and warned other Black men to beware of false accusations.
Hicks’ attorney, Brian Dunn (left), said no one has taken responsibility for painting his client as a would-be cop killer for no reason other than the color of his skin