LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — Two El Monte, California police officers died Tuesday night after they were shot in the line of duty while responding to a report of a stabbing, according to NewsNation affiliate KTLA.
The shooting happened around 5:10 p.m. Tuesday at an El Monte motel near Garvey Avenue, authorities said. The officers, a 22-year veteran and a rookie, were responding to a report of a stabbing at the motel.
No one was stabbed at all. Instead, upon arrival, the officers were met by gunfire inside that motel room that ultimately spilled out into the parking lot and to the street. Witnesses reported seeing heavy gunfire from both parties.
The two officers were transported to the hospital by ambulance with gunshot wounds that ultimately took their lives, officials for the City of El Monte said.
Both officers, identified Wednesday as Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana, had been raised in the city where they worked. They became only the third and fourth officers in the El Monte Police Department’s history to die in the line of duty.
“These two men were loved. They were good men. They paid the ultimate sacrifice, serving their community trying to help somebody,” acting El Monte Police Chief Ben Lowry said. “They do what hundreds of thousands of men and women do every day across the United States, get up with an oath to protect people and serve them and these two heroes paid the ultimate sacrifice. They were murdered by a coward.”
In a joint statement, the city of El Monte, its police department and Police Officers Association said the officers’ deaths weigh heavily on their hearts.
El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona said the two officers were “like family” to the community, with deep ties in the neighborhood.
“As our officers do on a daily basis, they were acting as the first line of defense for our community members when they were essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe,” Ancona said.
A suspect in the shooting, an unidentified man, was also killed during the exchange of gunfire, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Police recovered a gun from the scene. Investigators have been questioning a woman who was in the motel room and not injured.
The shooting comes less than 24 hours after a California Highway Patrol officer was critically injured after being shot during a traffic stop in Studio City. The suspect in that shooting has been apprehended.
NewsNation affiliate KTLA contributed to this story.