Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Dies After Being Shot While Off-Duty at Restaurant

(KTLA) -- The deputy who was shot in the head while off-duty at an Alhambra Jack in the Box has died, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said Wednesday.

Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano (Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano, a 13-year veteran with the department, was hospitalized in critical condition for three days before being taken off life support, authorities said.

FOX40 sister station KTLA reports Solano was standing by the counter inside the restaurant on West Valley Boulevard on Monday when a gunman came up from behind him and shot him in the head, sheriff’s officials said.

Rhett Mckenzie Nelson, a  30-year-old Utah man, was arrested the next day in connection to the seemingly random shooting, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Solano’s family and friends stood before members of the media Wednesday as Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the deputy’s death.

“This is a moment that I dreaded, and it happened sooner than I thought,” Sheriff Villanueva said. “On a good day, we could do heroic things and save people from death… other times, something as innocent as going into a fast food restaurant could be the end of watch for deputy Solano.”

Villanueva described teary-eyed deputies lining the hall outside Solano’s hospital room in the moments before his passing.

The sheriff called the shooting “brazen.”

Deputy Solano’s son thanked law enforcement agencies, and those who prayed for his father.

“We have lost him,” the grieving son said, fighting tears. “He was a really good dad.”

The fallen deputy’s step-daughter urged the crowd not to forget Solano.

“Not only did I lose a father figure, but [also] a best friend,” she said. “All I ask, is just don’t forget about him. He was a hard-working man and was loved by many.”

Solano’s longtime girlfriend thanked the hospital staff for trying to save the deputy’s life after the “senseless” shooting.

“Although the outcome was not what we wished it to be, we have solace knowing that he’s in a better place now,” she said.

A procession for the slain deputy followed the announcement of his death. Sky5 is overhead as L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies accompany Solano’s body from the hospital to the coroner’s office.

“It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later partner,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a tweet with a photo showing uniformed deputies standing in a line, waiting for Solano’s hearse.

A motive for the shooting is still unknown. Nelson is being held without bail, booking records show.

Sheriff Villanueva said the deputy was alerted at the restaurant that someone was following him, and that’s when he turned around to confront the gunman.

“We’re satisfied there was no other individual involved. He is the sole suspect,” Villanueva said of Nelson.

Nelson is also suspected to be involved in another shooting in downtown Los Angeles an hour before the Alhambra incident, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The shooting left a 30-year-old dead on Seventh Place near Seventh and Mateo streets, authorities said.

“It’s an astonishing volume of violent crime in such a short period of time,” Villanueva said.

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