Foundation to pay off mortgages of slain El Monte officers: Both were 'husbands and fathers'

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation recently announced it is paying off the home mortgages of the two El Monte police officers killed while investigating a possible stabbing at a local motel.

"Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana were both husbands and fathers, raised in the city of El Monte and had deep ties to the community they served. You reached out and touched their families with your generosity in their darkest hours. Thank you for supporting America’s heroes and their families," the foundation said in a statement.

Paredes and Santana — one on the force for more than two decades and the other for just months — were both were raised in and worked for the city of El Monte, a suburb of 107,000 people in the San Gabriel Valley. They became only the third and fourth officers in the El Monte Police Department’s history to die in the line of duty. A vigil was held for the two officers over the weekend.

Paredes, 42, started as a cadet in the department before becoming a full-time officer in 2000, according to a news release. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son.

Santana, 31, had been with the El Monte force for less than a year when he was killed. He previously served as a deputy with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for three years, the news release stated.

This tragic loss hits close to home for us," the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter. "He was a great partner and loved by all who knew him."

Santana also worked as a part-time public works employee for El Monte for six years before turning to law enforcement. He is survived by his wife, daughter and twin sons.

El Monte interim Police Chief Ben Lowry on Tuesday called the officers heroes.

"These two men were loved," Lowry said. "They were good men. They paid the ultimate sacrifice, serving their community trying to help somebody."

"They were murdered by a coward and we are grieving, and that hurts," he said.

The Tunnel to Towers foundation was created to honor FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller who after a shift in Brooklyn on 9/11, ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers to help. He was among the 343 firefighters who died that day.