EL MONTE, Calif. - The El Monte community will remember two fallen heroes Saturday night as the city and the department will host a candlelight vigil for the two officers who were killed in the line of duty last week.
Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana were killed last Monday, June 13, when investigators say they were ambushed while responding to a call near the Siesta Inn near Garvey and Central avenues. City officials said in a press release when the officers arrived at the scene, the gunman opened fire, and two officers were struck by the bullets. The two officers were rushed to the LAC +USC Medical Center where they died from their injuries sustained in the shooting.
The community will remember Paredes and Santana Saturday night, with a vigil at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.
"Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana were both raised in the city of El Monte and had a strong connection to the community they served," the city said in a press release earlier this week. "Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana paid the ultimate sacrifice, while in performance of a noble profession, serving the community they loved."
Investigators identified Justin Williams Flores as the man accused of opening fire at officers at the motel. He was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. But Flores' prior criminal record has led many to question Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's policies. The 35-year-old Flores was offered a plea deal for possession charges in 2021, and was on probation.
The family of Officer Santana spoke with FOX 11 following the news of his death, saying Flores should not have been back on the streets in the first place.
"Gascón is just letting all these criminals out and they just keep doing one crime after the other," said Olga Garcia, Santana's mother. "That guy should have been in jail… my son and the other officer would still be here."
A donation page has been set up for the families of Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana, which can be found on the Peace Officers Research Association of California's website here.