Slain California officers, suspect identified

West

EL MONTE, Calif. (NewsNation) — A mountain of flowers grows outside the El Monte Police Department for the two slain officers who were ambushed, shot and killed Tuesday after responding to a report of a stabbing at a local motel.

Family and friends wept for their lost loved ones: Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana.

42-year-old Paredes, a 22-year veteran and a native of El Monte, was a husband and father of two. He grew up with the dream to become a police officer. Paredes started as a cadet in the department before becoming a full-time officer in 2000, according to a news release. His uncle described him as a giver, who always took care of others.

“And his mom, it breaks my heart for her, because that’s her youngest son and only boy,” Paredes’s uncle said.

Santana, 31, who had been with the El Monte Police Department for less than a year, was a husband and father of three. Also an El Monte native, Santana joined the department last year after serving three years as a deputy sheriff at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

“Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana paid the ultimate sacrifice,” the city of El Monte wrote in a news release, “while in performance of a noble profession, serving the community they loved.”

The El Monte Police Department released a press statement on Twitter explaining the incident with a joint statement from the city of El Monte, the El Monte Police Department and the El Monte Police Officers Association:

“There are no words to describe our grief and devastation by this senseless act as we learned about the passing of two of our police officers. It weighs heavy on our hearts and we are sending our support to their families.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that flags at the state Capitol will be flown at half-staff in their honor.

Paredes and Santana became only the third and fourth officers in the El Monte Police Department’s history to die in the line of duty. A vigil is scheduled for Saturday.

This photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Justin William Flores who is the alleged gunman in a Southern California shootout that killed two police officers on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in El Monte, Calif. Flores was identified as the suspect by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

The suspected gunman, shot and killed at the scene, was identified by his mother as 35-year-old Justin Flores. He had a lengthy criminal history and was on probation for a gun charge at the time of the shooting. As terms for his probation, Flores was never supposed to have a firearm, but police said they found one beside his body at the scene of the crime.

Flores’s wife told KCBS-TV that he had attacked her two days ago and she had moved into the motel to escape him but he tracked her down.

“I am so deeply sorry, my deepest condolences for saving me, I’m so, so, so sorry,” Diana Flores tearfully told the TV station. “They didn’t deserve that, or their families. They really didn’t. They were trying to help me and I told them before they went in the room, ‘Don’t go in. He has a gun.'”

This ambush is one of several recent attacks against law enforcement.

The killings came just one day after a California Highway Patrol officer was shot and critically wounded during a traffic stop in the Studio City area of Los Angeles.

The 27-year-old officer is expected to recover, authorities said. A bloodhound helped police track down the suspect, who surrendered to police Tuesday in a homeless encampment in the San Fernando Valley.

Also this week, a Maryland sheriff’s deputy was killed in the line of duty.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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