Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy, Joseph Gilbert Solano, who was shot in the head and critically injured Monday, while off duty at an Alhambra Jack in the Box, has died, authorities said.
Solano, a 13-year veteran deputy with the department, died from his injuries, two days after being shot.
Deputy Solano’s son and other family members stood with Sheriff Alex Villanueva as he announced the deputy’s death at a news conference Wednesday.
Rhett Mckenzie Nelson, a 30-year-old Utah man, was arrested the next day, when his father reported him to authorities.
Utah police say Nelson accused of shooting an off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and murdering another man an hour previously had told his family he wanted to “make it on his own or die.”
The 50-year-old deputy didn’t wear anything to define him as a law enforcement officer and investigators said the shooting seemed random. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital in grave condition and doctors put him on life support, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
“The deputy was alerted in the restaurant that someone was following him and that’s when he turned to confront it and that’s when the shooting happened”, he continued.
At the news conference Wednesday, Villanueva acknowledged police also were investigating whether Nelson was linked to countless armed robberies in the San Diego County region.
Solano was most recently assigned to the department’s custody division. Villanueva described him as a family man well-liked by everyone who worked with him.
“Not only did I lose a father figure but a best friend,” Solano’s step-daughter told reporters on Wednesday as she held back tears. “I would like to thank everybody who has supported us, sent us prayers, and the whole entire law enforcement.”
The deputy’s son was also emotional when he spoke at the news conference calling Solano “a really good dad.”
Solano’s longtime girlfriend, Julianna Loza, called the attack a “senseless tragedy” and thanked law enforcement for “apprehending the perpetrator.”
“Although the outcome was not what we wished it to be, we have solace knowing that he is in a better place now”, she added.
“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.