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Hundreds gather to honor slain El Monte officers

Hundreds gather to honor slain El Monte officers
Hundreds gather to honor slain El Monte officers

Carmen Estrada, heart, and twin 11-yr-previous sons Sonnie, left, and Dominic Estrada of El Monte go to a candlelight vigil Saturday for two El Monte law enforcement officers killed in a motel shootout. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Periods)

Joseph Santana needed to be an El Monte law enforcement officer, just like his stepfather.

It was a extensive journey. He labored in the city’s maintenance office for six decades, then became a sheriff’s deputy in San Bernardino County.

Eventually, he donned a dim blue uniform and a badge in his hometown.

He had been on the job much less than a calendar year when he was killed, together with a fellow officer, Cpl. Michael Paredes, in a shootout at a motel on Tuesday.

“He was a excellent son, brother, father and a good husband,” Santana’s mom, Olga Garcia, mentioned at a vigil Saturday. “My everyday living will by no means be the exact without the need of my son and his lovely smile.”

The mourners at the vigil, who numbered in the hundreds, held candles, which shone brightly as night started to tumble outdoors the law enforcement department the place Santana, 31, and Paredes both equally proudly served.

The group spilled into the street at the rear of the station. Quite a few wore black T-shirts with the officers’ names throughout the again and the phrases “Fallen but not forgotten.”

Driving them, a duplicate of the Statue of Liberty lifted her torch, surrounded by candles at her foundation.

A close by memorial to the two officers has developed given that their fatalities, with piles of flowers, American flags and candles encompassing their framed pics.

“Even down to the last moments of their life, Mike and Joseph proved they have been men of character,” Ben Lowry, acting El Monte law enforcement chief, reported at the vigil. “They were being the most effective of us. They ended up the biggest of us. I’m a much better guy getting recognized each individual of them.”

Like Santana, Paredes was an El Monte native. His roots in the city’s Police Department were deep — he served as a cadet right before getting to be a full-time officer in 2000.

His sister Melissa Valencia instructed those at the vigil that her brother dearly liked his spouse, daughter, son and local community.

“Michael had a big heart, large hugs for all people and that best smile that he was recognized for,” Valencia explained. “And he experienced a spirit to match it.”

She explained her brother would not want to be remembered as a victim. She hoped that his youngsters, and all these he mentored by the a long time, would continue on his legacy of public company.

“Let your pain gasoline your fireplace,” Valencia reported. “Decide on your route in everyday living, decide on management and choose to be the alter this group demands, just like Michael did.”

Paredes, 42, was Santana’s instruction officer.

Olga Garcia, mother of fallen Officer Joseph Santana, looks to the sky at a candlelight vigil.

Olga Garcia, next from still left, mother of fallen El Monte Police Officer Joseph Santana, looks to the sky at a candlelight vigil for her son and one more officer, Michael Paredes. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Periods)

On Tuesday afternoon, the pair, along with an unidentified sergeant, responded to a domestic violence simply call in a area at the Siesta Inn.

Santana entered first, adopted by Paredes, in accordance to sources who questioned to continue being nameless mainly because they were being not licensed to talk publicly.

Inside of, Justin Flores, 35, backed himself into the rest room, resources instructed The Instances.

Melissa Valencia stands before a microphone at a lectern in an outdoor setting

Melissa Valencia, sister of El Monte Police Cpl. Michael Paredes, addresses guests at the vigil. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Periods)

Within just about 12 seconds, a single resource explained, Flores ambushed the officers with gunfire. Coroner’s officers stated equally officers died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Soon after Paredes and Santana went down, the sources claimed, Flores took a gun off a person of the fallen officers and left the area, firing at the sergeant and other officers in the parking good deal, in which a shootout ensued.

Flores fell to the floor but continued to fireplace at the officers, then shot himself as officers moved in, sources reported. A gun was observed up coming to his physique.

Flores had been prohibited from getting a gun given that he was convicted of initially-degree theft in 2011.

In 2020, he was charged with staying a felon in possession of a firearm and methamphetamine.

The prosecutor assigned to that circumstance wrote in a report that he experienced to revoke the “strike” from the burglary conviction, which could have led to a for a longer period sentence, because of a plan by Dist. Atty. George Gascón.

Three women and two men, some holding candles, at the vigil

El Monte law enforcement officers, from still left, Nicole Lona, Dennis Chiu, Maribel Rojas, Raul Vega and Arlen Castillo at the vigil for their slain colleagues. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Periods)

Mark Jimenez, the brother of Santana’s wife, study a letter at the vigil on her behalf, addressed to her late spouse.

“You ended up the greatest spouse and children gentleman, the finest individual,” the letter explained. “I never know how I’m going to stay the rest of my existence without having you, but you remaining me with so lots of beautiful recollections that I can share with our infants. … You did not should have to be taken so early.”

Santana is survived by his spouse, daughter and twin boys.

A girl in a face mask cries as she sits between two women among the crowd

Jayde Santana, 9, heart, daughter of Officer Joseph Santana, is comforted by her wonderful-grandmother Sara Pinedo, remaining, and grandmother Lupe Pinedo at the vigil. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Moments)

Retired Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Martin Ramirez was between a lot of in the crowd who drove miles to pay back respects to the officers.

“I’m here to aid my brothers in blue,” stated Ramirez, who retired in Oct. “It’s superior to see folks coming jointly and communities coming with each other to assistance what we do for our communities.”

Some in the crowd held signs calling for voters to oust Gascón and were being accumulating signatures for his recall.

Celina Lugo, who wore a “Remember Gascón” hat, stated she arrived from the San Gabriel Valley to support the families. But she claimed she also wished persons to understand the outcomes of Gascón’s guidelines.

Lots of of those who spoke at the vigil reminded the group to go on supporting the bereaved households, and regulation enforcement in standard, past the evening’s gathering.

El Monte Town Councilmember Victoria Martinez Muela reported her city is “so potent, we are so wonderful.”

“We are El Monte,” she stated. “Michael Paredes is El Monte, Joseph Santana is El Monte. … We will not be damaged.”

This tale at first appeared in Los Angeles Situations.