Officer Joseph Santana and Corporal Michael Paradis were ambushed and shot to death at a motel last week. Paradis was a 22-year veteran, a husband and father of two. Santana was a rookie, a husband and father of three.
Over the weekend, hundreds came together for a candlelight vigil, honoring their lives.
Monday morning, Santana’s mother Olga Garcia spoke out about the violence police officers face and shared memories of her son in an emotional interview on NewsNation.
“My son was a great son. He was a wonderful father, brother. He was a hard-working man. He loved his children, his wife. And now our lives have been destroyed,” Garcia choked back tears as she shared a glimpse of her son’s life.
“I can’t even look at my grandkids, because they’re so heartbroken,” Garcia said her grandchildren are always asking for their dad. “It’s not fair.”
America has seen more violence against police officers in recent months.
Intentional attacks on law enforcement are going up compared to this time last year in 2020, according to data from the Fraternal Order of Police.
The FOP reported 141 officers were shot in the first five months of 2022, 21 of whom were killed. That number is up 10% from that time period in 2021, and 20% from this period in 2020.
So far this year, the FOP, which is a union representing officers across America, said there have been 27 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement. As a result of these attacks, 42 officers were shot, and six died.
Garcia blamed progressive Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon for growing violence against officers in the Los Angeles area.
“George Gascon gives criminals more rights than police officers. He has insane ideas about criminals. They just get like a slap in the hand. Police officers are afraid to even do their jobs, or to defend themselves because Gascon would put them in jail. He’s for the criminals. He is not for victims. And as long as he continues to be in office is going to destroy more families,” Garcia said.
There is an ongoing recall effort to remove Gascon from his position, and the petition to recall him has already received half a million signatures.
“If that criminal would have been locked up, they both would be here today,” Garcia said.
The suspect, Justin William Flores, was on probation for a gun charge at the time of this shooting. The coroner says he killed himself during that shootout with police in a motel parking lot.
Garcia broke down crying during her interview, saying she was devastated by the loss of her son. She called for the recall of Gascon immediately.
Garcia asked viewers to “pray for all police officers to come home safe to their families.”