Funeral services Thursday for slain Pomona officer

Funeral services will be held Thursday for Pomona police Officer Greggory Casillas, who was gunned down while responding to a standoff with a barricaded suspect.

The service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Purpose Church in Pomona and will be immediately followed by a procession to Forest Lawn-Covina Hills Cemetery, according to the Pomona Police Department.

Police warned that motorists could encounter street closures to accommodate the funeral procession. According to Pomona police, the following streets will be closed beginning at 6 a.m.:

-- Garey Avenue in both directions from Holt Avenue to Alvarado Street, possibly extending to Orange Grove Avenue;
-- Main Street from Holt Avenue to Pearl Street; and
-- Pearl Street from east of Main Street to Garey Avenue.

Gov. Jerry Brown is among the dignitaries expected to attend the funeral.

Casillas' accused killer, Isaias De Jesus Valencia, 38, of Pomona has been charged with capital murder and the special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer and murder for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Valencia. He was also charged with seven counts of attempted murder and one count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer's vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Valencia's arraignment has been postponed until May 1.

The shooting occurred about 9:10 p.m. March 9 in the 1400 block of South Palomares Street. Casillas was killed and Officer Alex Nguyen was wounded, reportedly shot in the face while coming to Casillas' aid. He has been released from the hospital and authorities said he has been ``doing well.''

Valencia was arrested March 10 following a standoff of more than 15 hours.

Casillas, a resident of Upland, had been with the department since 2014, though he was only sworn in as a Pomona police officer in September 2017 and was just about to finish field training. He is survived by his wife Claudia; sons Gregorio, 4, and 5-month-old Mariano; his mother Marisela Casillas; and brothers Dominick and Shawn.

A memorial fund has been established for the Casillas family, and information is available via the Pomona Police Department's Twitter account.

"Gregg is a hero, a man to look up to,'' Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri said earlier this week. "He left his family at home to protect yours, and his ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our Pomona police officers were out doing what they always do, putting themselves in harm's way to protect Pomona, a community that we love.''

The fatal confrontation began when Pomona police officers attempted to stop Valencia for alleged reckless driving. A pursuit ensued, which ended when the suspect's vehicle crashed into a parked car and he fled on foot, according to sheriff's Capt. Chris Bergner.

"The suspect ran into an apartment complex where officers gave chase,'' Bergner said. "As he barricaded himself in a bedroom, officers attempted to contact him and he began firing through the door, striking two officers.''

Los Angeles County sheriff's crisis negotiators tried repeatedly to persuade Valencia to surrender during the standoff, but he refused. SWAT deputies then deployed tear gas and he still refused to surrender. They then entered the location where the suspect was barricaded and took him into custody.

Valencia's friends said he is a father of three who used to be involved in his community but has been battling depression and substance abuse in recent years.

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