Who Murdered the First Compton Officers? Regis Thomas Case

James Wayne MacDonaldRegis Deon Thomas was born on June 16, 1970. Thomas in later years would be known as an American convicted murderer along with being associated with the Bloods gang.

Thomas would ultimately pay the price and be sentenced to death for the 1992 murder that happened in Torrance, California along with the 1993 murders of James Wayne MacDonald and Kevin Michael Burrell who were Compton Police officers that were shot and killed during a routine traffic stop in Compton, California.

Burrell and MacDonald would be the first two Compton police officers shot and killed while on duty within the police department’s 65-year history.

Background

Regis Deon Thomas was born on June 16, 1970. Thomas was the oldest out of his four siblings. Thomas would grow up in the South-Central Los Angeles area.

Thomas was also a part of the Bounty Hunter Bloods. The Bounty Hunter Bloods was a street gang that originated in Watts, Los Angeles, California. The Bounty Hunter Bloods was a subset of the more popular Bloods gang in Los Angeles, California.

In 1990, Thomas would be convicted of perjury.

Thomas used to hold a job as a security guard for a local liquor store, until that liquor store was burned down to the ground in 1992 thanks to the Los Angeles riots. After the liquor store was burned down, Thomas would be out of employment for at least a year.

Murders

On February 22, 1993, the Compton Police Department, which consists of 125 officers were in mourning of the fallen of two of their fellow officers who were fatally shot and killed during a routine vehicle stop.

Officer Kevin Michael Burrell, 29 and Reserve Officer James Wayne MacDonald, 24 were the first officer to be fatally shot and killed during their line of duty at the Compton Police Department in the police departments 65-year history.

Between 11 pm to about 11:15 pm, officers were answering an unrelated call when they spotted a traffic violation that consisted of suspicious circumstances. They both agreed it is best to make this routine traffic stop. So, the pair would pull over this customized red Chevrolet pickup truck that was traveling westbound on Rosecrans Avenue going away from Wilmington Avenue.

The customized red Chevrolet pickup truck would pull over on Rosecrans Avenue and stop just east of Dwight Avenue.

Now according to witnesses, Officers MacDonald and Burrell would approach the vehicle and the suspect would leave the vehicle through the driver’s door. The reports will also state that both officers tried to physically restrain the suspect. The suspect was using its arms to ward off the officers, but both officers were trying to physically restrain the suspects arms but placing his arms behind his back per protocol.

While the officers were struggling with restraining the suspect, the suspect had just enough time to arm himself and grab his 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. The suspect was able to shoot both officers before the officers could fully comprehend what was happening.

Upon both officers falling to the ground, the suspect was still shooting at them as he was trying to flee the scene.

The suspect was able to go back into his truck and fully leave the scene of the crime.

The Compton Police Department soon after would start receiving many telephone calls from citizens within the community who heard gunshots or even saw the confrontation of the suspect and the two officers who were now lying on the ground in a pool of blood near Dwight and Rosecrans Avenue.

The Compton Police Department would quickly dispatch officers to the scene of the crime, where they would find two of their fellow officers lying on the ground in a pool of blood. Both officers were suffering from many gunshot wounds to their bodies and their heads. The officers were motionless in the street, close to their patrol car.

The other Compton police officers would note that the officers service weapons were still in their holsters and their backup weapons were still placed in their pockets and have not been touched.

This information would then be broadcasted all over the radio as dozens upon dozens of patrol units from a variety of agencies would be heading down to the scene of the crime.

While this was happening a very intensive manhunt would ensue for the suspect who was the one who killed these two officers in the line of duty. This manhunt would go on throughout the night and the days that followed.

Later down the line, the suspect would properly be identified. The suspect would be known as Regis Deon Thomas, who was associated with the Bounty Hunters Blood gang which happened to be a sublet of the bigger Blood gang that took over Los Angeles, California.

Throughout the media coverage of this crime, Thomas would come aware that the Compton Police Department was intently looking for him in the connection of the murders of two of their fallen officers.

Thomas would then get in contact with the media outlets to surrender himself on live television to a reporter who would then bring him down to the Compton Police Department to surrender him to the proper authorities.

Thomas who was on parole at the time of the murders, would be tried and convicted of murdering Burrell and MacDonald. Thomas would then receive the death penalty for committing this crime.

Trial

When Officers Burrell and MacDonald went to do the routine traffic stop neither of them told dispatchers what they were doing. The officers didn’t run the truck’s license plate or ask for a background check on the truck either.

Detectives had to figure out, if there were two assailants in the truck that evening or if there was just one.

As everyone knew both Officers Burrell and MacDonald were both armed, as they were on duty officers, but neither of the officers had the chance to draw their weapons.

MacDonald grew up in Compton while Burrell was a police officer for 5 years prior to his murderer. MacDonald and Burrell were the first police officers in the Compton department to be murdered while working in the entire history of the department.

After the murder took place an intense manhunt ensued, which would result in five arrests in various other cases that solved two attempted murders and three murders.

Timothy M. Brennan and Robert Ladd two other Compton police officers were running the task force that was formed just after the murders of Burrell and MacDonald, which would lead to the arrest along with the conviction of Regis Deon Thomas.

Thomas was finally and officially arrested on April 6, 1993, after he would surrender himself to a reporter on live television.

Thomas would then be found guilty of both murderers and given the death sentence on August 15, 1995.

Thomas is currently in San Quentin State Prison. As of today, he is still on California’s death row waiting for his execution date.