President Trump argued on Sunday for tougher criminal sentencing guidelines and faster courts as the manhunt continues for the suspect in the shooting of two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies over the weekend.
Trump, who was speaking at a roundtable campaign event in Las Vegas, used Saturday’s gruesome shooting to highlight his campaign’s “law and order” message, while also calling out Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as weak on crime.
“He’s not strong for law and order and everybody knows that,” Trump said of Biden during at a “Latinos for Trump” event. “When you see a scene like happened just last night in California with the two police people – a woman, a man – shot at stone cold short range.”
The president added: “We’re looking for him…and when we find that person, we’ve got to get much faster with our courts and we’ve got to get much tougher with our sentencing.”
Authorities in southern California were searching for the suspect who shot and critically wounded two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies who were sitting in their squad car early Saturday evening. There is currently a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
The 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy underwent surgery Saturday evening, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a late-night news conference. Both graduated from the academy 14 months ago, he said.
They were each in critical condition Sunday afternoon, said Deputy Trina Schrader.
The deputies were shot while sitting in their patrol car at a Metro rail station in Compton and were able to radio for help, the sheriff said. Villanueva, whose department has been criticized during recent protests over racial unrest, expressed frustration over anti-police sentiment as he urged people to pray for the deputies.
Trump first responded to the ambush-style shooting early Sunday morning.
"Animals that must be hit hard!" Trump wrote, referring to criminals who target law enforcement.
"If [the deputies] die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!" Trump later wrote.
Trump and his Republican allies have continually attempted to cast Biden as weak on crime and in favor of measures to defund police departments across the country.
The “Defund The Police” movement began in force following the death in late May of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died while being detained by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s death – and similar incidents across the country – sparked widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice as well as calls to cut funding to law enforcement agencies.
Despite Trump and the GOP’s push to cast Biden as proponent of the “Defund the Police” movement, the Democratic candidate has called for police reforms by stopped short of defunding law enforcement departments.
"Let's get the facts straight, I not only don't want to defund the police,” Biden said during a campaign speech earlier this month. “I want to add $300 million to their local budgets to deal with community policing to get police and communities back together again.”
Biden said he wants reforms including more funding for public schools, summer programs and mental health and substance abuse treatment, including a $300 million investment in the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
Biden has previously said that Trump wants to cut funding for local law enforcement by roughly $500 million, a claim that PolitiFact has rated as "Mostly True." Trump's FY 2021 budget proposal would reduce Justice Department funding for state and local law enforcement by $380 million compared to FY 2020, and the president's budget would also cut COPS by $170 million, according to PolitiFact.
Biden also quickly condemned the shooting of the deputies in Compton, calling it “unconscionable” and demanding the suspect be apprehended quickly.
"This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice," Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted. “Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished.”
Fox News’ Evie Fordham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.