Slain Monterey Park police officer was ‘tough as nails’

The off-duty Monterey Park police officer who was killed in a shooting in Downey this week was “tough as nails” and “destined for bigger things,” his family and friends said.

Gardiel Solorio, 26, was fatally shot Monday in the parking lot of an LA gym. No suspects have been identified and details about the shooting are scarce.

Solorio joined the Monterey Park Police Department in July after graduating from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Academy.

He is survived by his parents, siblings and a fiancé, said Monterey Park Police Chief Kelly Gordon.

“His family and friends described him as tough as nails and a kid at heart,” Gordon said during a news conference Tuesday outside Downey City Hall.

A Downey police tent set up next to a car that had collided with another car in a car park

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

(KTLA-TV Channel 5)

He joined the department with the goal of serving the community and being a positive role model for his nephews, Gordon said.

“The family and the department are grieving right now,” Gordon said. “It’s a senseless act of violence. He was only 26 years old. I don’t know about you all, but I have children that age. It is particularly difficult for me.”

Solorio had worked hard to become a police officer, a friend recalled.

“We knew he was destined for bigger things,” said Gabriel Ortej, adding, “You couldn’t not love the guy.”

Ortej and Solorio met years ago when they worked together in security. Solorio told his friend about his dream of becoming a police officer and embarked on a career path that he believed would be the best possible candidate for the academy, Ortej said.

Solorio became a supervisor and “looked after everyone on his team,” he said.

The pair stayed in touch after Solorio went to the academy and texted shortly before the shooting, Ortej said. Solario shared how he recently made his first arrest and said his colleagues praised his instincts.

“He was proud of his work,” said Ortej. “He was really excited.”

The last time they texted was around 2:30 p.m. Monday, Ortej said. They planned to have lunch together soon.

“It’s just a tragedy that his life was so short,” Ortej said. Slain Monterey Park police officer was ‘tough as nails’

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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