'A true American success story': Family remembers slain off-duty officer

Officials Tuesday identified the off-duty Monterey Park police officer who was killed in the city of Downey earlier this week, and his family is sharing more about their lost loved one. 

Twenty-six-year-old Gardiel Solorio of Bell Gardens was shot in broad daylight Monday in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in Downey, according to police. Solorio was shot multiple times while sitting in his car. Security footage shows at one point Solorio's vehicle went backward and slammed into a parked van, possibly as a way to escape the gunfire.

Solorio had been on the job for just 15 days. He was hired as a police officer recruit back in January 2022, according to police, and graduated from the Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department Academy on July 22, starting his field training days later on July 25. 

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He was the youngest of 13 children, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his sister-in-law. Now Solorio's loved ones are working to raise funds to bring his extended family to give the 26-year-old a proper sendoff.

"His dream of becoming a police officer after years of hard work and dedication had finally come to fruition, when life was abruptly taken away due to a senseless act of violence," Solorio's sister-in-law wrote on the GoFundMe page. "He was taken from his family way too soon. He was and has always been [a] true American success story."

Solorio's family says he was also a first-generation college graduate, and the first and his family to become police officer.

"We all knew from the moment we met him that he had the heart of service and was going to be a great officer," MPPD Chief Kelly Gordon said. "And I could tell that from the moment he walked in and did our first introductions in my office. The family and department are grieving right now, and this is an especially difficult tragedy. It's a senseless act of violence. He was only 26 years old. I don't know about all of you, but I have children that age. So to me this is particularly difficult."  

Police say they're continuing to investigate and say they don't yet have a motive for the shooting.