Three people are in custody in connection with the shooting death of a Los Angeles-area police officer who was sitting in his personal car in a parking lot behind a station, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina told reporters on Thursday.
Two men and a male juvenile are in custody, he said.
It appears Downey Police Officer Ricardo Galvez was shot Wednesday night during a botched robbery, Corina said.
Galvez had just returned to department headquarters from a K-9 training after 11 p.m. Wednesday and was sitting in a public parking lot not far from an entrance to the station. He had been in his car for a few minutes when two men approached.
Some of the suspects have admitted to the attempted robbery, Corina said.
A police officer in a nearby patrol car heard the gunfire and saw the pair get into another vehicle and drive off, Corina said. That officer chased the car to the nearby community of Montebello, where the pair bailed out, Corina said.
Galvez, shot while still in his vehicle, died of his wounds, Corina said.
Homes to be searched
Police detained several people and were looking for several more, Corina said, adding that he expected officers to search some homes in Montebello as part of the investigation on Thursday.
Asked whether any of the detainees were suspected of shooting Galvez, Corina said, “We believe we may have one of the suspects, but we’re in the process of interviewing them and some of the other individuals.”
Corina said it appeared the shooting was targeted rather than random, but he conceded investigators didn’t immediately know why Galvez was shot.
“That’s what we’re in the process of trying to figure out — what exactly happened and why they would target this officer,” Corina said, adding that investigators hadn’t found any weapons connected to the shooting.
Officer was driving his own vehicle
Galvez worked five years for police in Downey, a city of roughly 114,000 people about 10 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
He was on duty but driving his own vehicle when he arrived at the parking lot Wednesday night, Corina said.
“He was almost at the end of his shift,” Corina said. “He was still working when he pulled into the parking lot here.”
Authorities weren’t aware of any threat to Galvez, Corina said. He said investigators will check surveillance video of the parking lot to see if it reveals anything that will help the probe.
Galvez was a U.S. Marine who served two tours of duty during Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes the United States’ yearslong campaign in Afghanistan, Downey Police Chief Carl Charles said.
“Ricky … was a tremendous young man who loved serving the residents of Downey,” Charles said. “His smile was infectious and his professionalism was always on display.”
“Our department is hurting,” the chief said, “and I would ask that everyone keep Ricky’s family and members of this department in your prayers.”