LOS ANGELES (FOX 11) - An off-duty Los Angeles police officer was shot to death in Lincoln Heights Saturday morning; and the shooter remains at-large.
The officer has been identified as 24-year-old Juan Jose Diaz, he was last assigned to the department's Professional Standards Bureau, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
Diaz had been with the department for two years.
A civilian flagged down a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday to report a shooting in the area of Avenue 26 and Artesian Street, according to Assistant Police Chief Beatrice Girmala.
The officer called for backup officers, who responded to the scene and located two victims suffering from gunshot wounds, Girmala said. One of the victims, Diaz, was pronounced dead at the scene and the second victim was taken to a hospital in unknown condition.
A description of the shooter has not yet been released. Police are currently searching the area for the shooter.
According to officials Diaz was eating at a taco stand with his girlfriend and her two brothers at the time of the shooting. Just before 1a.m. law enforcement sources say Diaz approached a group of men who were vandalizing the area. He asked him to stop, that's when the group claimed their gang involvement and showed their gun, officials say.
Officer Diaz and his friends then drove off in their pick-up truck and according to LAPD the men shot at them, killing Diaz and injuring one of his girlfriend's brothers.
Detectives are not yet sure if Diaz was armed since he was off-duty.
"My understanding was there was some persons or person spray-painting a wall or something, committing an act of vandalism, and the officer -- I don't know what the conversation was -- walked away, there was no altercation that I know of, and then later, the officer was walking to his car and this
person or persons went up and hot him,'' Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told reporters at the scene.
"I don't believe there was any exchange of gunfire, he was targeted, he was murdered. And this was not a run and gun battle of any nature," said Meghan Aguilar with LAPD.
Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement Saturday morning saying "Words cannot match the depth of sorrow that Angelenos are feeling today. The senseless murder of Officer Juan Diaz is a shocking reminder of the dangers that LAPD officers face every moment they wear the badge, and the absolute courage and selflessness with which they uphold the oath each day." He goes on to add "Our hearts are with Officer Diaz's family and friends. They are experiencing a loss that no one should have to suffer, under circumstances that outrage us all. My promise is that we will hold them close, stand with them every step of the way — and never tire until we find and prosecute the vicious criminals responsible for this horrific tragedy."
At around 9 a.m., a procession of police and other public safety agencies escorted the officer's body along a roughly one-mile route to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.
CNS contributed to this report