2 cops have been killed whereas responding to a potential stabbing at a lodge in El Monte, California
“They were essentially ambushed trying to protect a family,” said Jessica Ancona, Mayor of El Monte.
Officers were identified Wednesday as Corp. Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana identified.
Officers were responding to a call about a possible stabbing at a motel in El Monte, said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is leading the investigation.
When officers arrived, “they confronted the suspect and a shootout ensued, involving officers,” said Captain Andrew Meyer of the Sheriff’s Department. “The suspect fled the hotel room into the parking lot and a second shooting involving an officer ensued. Two officers from the El Monte Police Department and the suspect were shot.”
The two officers were taken to LAC + USC Medical Center, where they died from their injuries. Meyer said it appears no victim was stabbed, but authorities are investigating. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
The suspect, identified as Justin Flores, was not on parole at the time of the shooting, according to a source in the Los Angeles Attorney’s Office.
In 2021, Flores pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, LA District Attorney’s public information officer Ricardo Santiago said in a statement.
“The sentence he received in the firearms case was consistent with the case decisions for this type of crime given his prior convictions and the nature of the crime,” Santiago said, adding that Flores had no documented history of violence at the time of his conviction .
Flores’ criminal history dates back to when he was convicted of breaking into his grandparents’ home more than 10 years ago, which prompted a strike, Santiago said.
Officers had deep ties to the community
Both Paredes and Santana grew up in El Monte and “had a strong connection to the community they served,” the department said in a statement.
Paredes is survived by his wife, daughter, and son, and spent his entire 22-year career with the El Monte Police Department.
Santana began his career in the El Monte Public Works Department and served in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for several years before joining the El Monte Police Department. He leaves behind his wife, daughter and twin sons.
The mayor said both officers are deeply committed to protecting the community.
“These two officers were like family in our community with deep ties to our neighborhood,” Ancona said.
“One of our officers grew up in El Monte, went through our schools and was thrilled to be part of the El Monte Police Department where he can serve and protect family and friends. The other officer who fell was a new officer, patrol our streets and are excited to be with the force.”
The mayor said both officers are also fathers.
“These men are committed to their careers, and even more so than sons, husbands and fathers,” said Ancona. “We stand in solidarity with them, hug them and their families.”
El Monte interim police chief said the officers killed were heroes.
“These two men were loved. They were good men,” said interim police chief Ben Lowry.
“They made the ultimate sacrifice to serve their community and try to help someone. They do this with hundreds of thousands of men and women across the United States every day. … And these two heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Stephanie Becker, and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.