Gang member charged with attempted murder after deputy shot in the back

Covina, California - April 22: UA Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy is being treated after apparently being shot in the West Covina area in an area near the San Bernardino, 10, Freeway and Barranca Avenue on Monday, April 22, 2024 in Covina, California. Reports from the scene indicate the deputy was struck in a bulletproof vest and is awake and alert, but is being taken to a hospital to be checked out. Police have set up a perimeter in the area in search of a suspect, and there are unconfirmed reports that one person has been detained. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Investigators search for evidence after the shooting of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy in West Covina on Monday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Had the bullet fired into the back of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy struck one inch higher, it would have missed his protective vest and likely killed him, authorities said Wednesday in announcing charges against the man they say pulled the trigger.

Raymundo Duran, 47, was charged with attempted first-degree murder in the attack. Prosecutors say he shot Deputy Samuel Aispuro in an "ambush" at Barranca Street and East Garvey Avenue in West Covina. After the shooting, Aispuro, 43, was able to radio for help, which triggered a massive manhunt for the shooter.

California Highway Patrol officers arrested Duran on Monday evening at a San Onofre inspection point on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of a loaded firearm.

On Wednesday, Dist. Atty. George Gascón charged Duran with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, assault on a police officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm and the special allegation of intentional use of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Gascón said Duran has a prior strike against him, and had the deputy's vest and the location of the bullet not saved Aispuro's life, this would have been a murder charge.

"If convicted, Mr. Duran faces life in prison," Gascón said.

Read more: Gang member arrested in 'ambush' shooting of L.A. County deputy, sheriff says

Sheriff Robert Luna said during a news conference Tuesday that Duran is a documented gang member, associated with a gang Luna declined to name.

"He has a very extensive criminal history. He has a very violent history," the sheriff said. "He had no business being in the possession of a firearm with his criminal history."

Gascón said during a Wednesday news conference that Duran had served time for incidents in 2019 and 2022.

"He has been charged accordingly," Gascón said.

Records show that Duran was charged in 2001 with murder and pleaded guilty the following year to voluntary manslaughter, receiving 11 years in prison, records show.

In July 2021, Duran — a parolee at the time — evaded a police officer after being involved in a hit-and-run. The televised chase ended when Covina police were able to stop his car using a PIT maneuver.

While on probation, he was arrested again and charged with possession of a firearm by a narcotics addict and possession of ammunition. In April 2022, he pleaded guilty and received 16 months in state prison for that offense plus an additional 16 months for the 2021 evading incident, records show.

A judge ordered those sentences to be served concurrently. By July 1, 2023, he was out of prison and arrested again for driving under the influence. That case was dismissed last month, court records show.

Read more: L.A. County sheriff's department searching for suspect who shot deputy in the back

Investigators connected Duran to the sheriff's deputy shooting after initially booking him as a suspected drunk driver, Luna said.

"Based on statements, security camera video in West Covina, witness statements and the firearm recovered by CHP, detectives strongly believe Raymundo Duran is the suspect in the shooting of our deputy," Luna said.

Duran is being held in the San Diego County jail in lieu of just over $1 million bail.

Luna said the weapon recovered by the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the shooting, is being tested for forensic evidence.

Aispuro, a married father of two, has been released from the hospital and is recovering with his family at home, Luna said, adding that his bulletproof vest "saved his life."

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.