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Monterey Park police officer killed in Downey had just started his career

The Downey Police Department is still searching for a suspect linked to Monday’s shooting death of an off-duty Monterey Park police officer in Downey.

Officers were called around 3:25 p.m. to a report of gunfire in the Downey Landing shopping center car park, according to the Downey Police Department. When officers arrived, they found the man next to his car in the parking lot near LA Fitness, where he was receiving CPR, police said.

Despite first aid, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

An off-duty officer from the Monterey Park Police Department was found shot dead in Downey.

An investigation is underway after an off-duty officer from the Monterey Park Police Department was found shot dead in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in Downey.

(KTLA-TV)

The victim was identified Tuesday as Gardiel Solorio, 26, an off-duty officer with the Monterey Park Police Department.

He started his career in July, Monterey Park Police Chief Kelly Gordon said on Tuesday.

At a news conference Monday night, Gordon said she and her department were in mourning.

“The loss of life is tragic,” Gordon said. “The loss of this life is especially painful when it’s one of ours.”

A procession escorted the officer’s body from the crime scene to the coroner’s office Monday night.

On Tuesday, there was little evidence in the LA Fitness parking lot that a fatal shooting had taken place there the previous day.

Carmen Miranda walked around the parking lot with her window down, looking for a memorial to the police officer. But the parking lot was filled only with cars and gym-goers.

“I was hoping someone would have left a candle and flowers,” Miranda said before driving off.

Some members of the gym expressed concern about returning to the gym after the shooting.

“I was scared to come back today,” said Isaac Limon, 26, of Downey, who was in the gym when Monday’s shooting happened.

He was lifting weights as part of his daily routine when he heard a bang of four pops through the gym walls, then sirens a few minutes later. Limon stayed at LA Fitness with dozens of concerned gym members locked down for an hour. They went outside to find a swarm of police cars and paramedics surrounding a Dodge Charger with a broken rear window.

Another Downey resident and LA Fitness regular, Nick Tepper, had been planning to hit the gym Monday afternoon until he received alarming news from his cousin.

The shooting erupted just yards from his cousin as he waited in his car for a friend to arrive, Tepper said Tuesday. Tepper’s cousin ran to where the off-duty officer lay. An off-duty firefighter directed him to fetch a medical kit from the gym.

The couple then tended to the man with multiple gunshot wounds, Tepper said, recalling conversations with his cousin, who texted him videos from the scene shortly after.

“My cousin said there was too much blood and there was no way he was going to make it, his eyes rolled back,” Tepper said while standing near where the gun was shot.

Most members of the gym kept to themselves on Tuesday, Limon said, and gym management refused to discuss the shooting “as if nothing happened.”

Limon said he was shocked to see a shooting in Downey, which he described as “calmer” compared to neighboring towns.

The middle-class suburb has been dubbed “Mexican Beverly Hills” and an example of the rise of Latinos in California. But after a string of shootings in recent years – Monday’s shooting, a fatal shooting of a Downey police officer in 2015 outside police station, another fatal shooting at a Downey liquor store and at a house party in July, at the three were killed – Limon began to draw a sharp contrast to the way he thought about home: a suburb that was ostensibly safe and a Downey where he had internalized fears of death and violence.

“I hope it doesn’t continue because if it continues like this I will think about moving,” said Limon.

Tepper felt confident enough to return to the gym, calling such shootings “one in a million.”

“It’s not too often,” Tepper said. He moved to Downey from central Los Angeles about five years ago, where he and his cousin witnessed more violent incidents.

Still, the July house party shooting was fresh in his mind.

“We need to get the guns off the streets,” Tepper said.

The Downey Police Department is leading the investigation but as of Tuesday had not released any details about the shooting, including whether there may have been one or more suspects or the timing of events prior to the shooting.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-09/search-continues-for-suspect-in-shooting-death-of-off-duty-monterey-park-police-officer-in-downey Monterey Park police officer killed in Downey had just started his career

Alley Einstein

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