LONG BEACH, Calif. (FOX 11) - The suspected gunman in an off-duty deputy shooting at a Jack in the Box in Alhambra was taken into custody in Long Beach on Tuesday, officials said.
Rhett Nelson, 30, of Utah, entered a church in Long Beach at about 10 a.m. and then called his father from the church, investigators said in a Tuesday afternoon news briefing. Nelson talked to his father about murdering in Southern California, Sheriff's officials said.
Authorities say the father then called Long Beach police and arriving officers spotted the vehicle that matched the gunman's description driving away from the church.
Officers observed the suspect drive into a driveway in the 2400 block of Granada Avenue in Long Beach where they took him into custody without incident.
Police found a revolver inside the suspect's Kia Sorento during a search warrant that matched the weapon used in the deputy shooting, Sheriff's officials said.
Investigators believe Nelson is also involved in a homicide investigation the same day of the Alhambra shooting that occurred in LAPD's Newton jurisdiction.
The L.A. Sheriff's deputy that was shot was identified as Joseph Gilbert Solano, a 13-year veteran with the department. Deputy Solano was off-duty at the time of the shooting. He suffered a gunshot wound to the head and remains in critical condition at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
Deputy Solano joined the L.A. Sheriff's Department in 1999. Later he left for a stint at the Alhambra City Fire Department before rejoining the Sheriff's Department in 2006, working most recently in court services. He grew up in Southern California.
Sheriff's officials say Deputy Solano's father passed away a few months ago and he was now taking care of his mother, and above all else, he is a family man who always put others first.
Moments before Nelson's arrest was confirmed, authorities offered a $100,000 reward for information that would lead to the gunman.
Investigators believe Nelson arrived in Southern California the first week of June. His family reported him missing from St. George, Utah in late May.
The shooting occurred around 5:45 p.m. Monday at Jack in the Box located near the intersection of Valley Boulevard and Fremont Avenue. The deputy was in civilian clothes, carrying no weapon or badge or anything to reflect his law enforcement status, when the suspect approached and fired a shot at him, sheriff's officials said.
The suspect was captured on video surveillance from the restaurant. Law enforcement officials say this attack appears to be random at this time. The investigation is ongoing.
Nelson's father released the following statement on behalf of the suspect's family:
"My wife Jean and I, along with our family, are saddened beyond words to hear of the shooting of Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Solano, and to learn that our son Rhett is being held in connection with this horrifying and senseless attack. Rhett has been missing since May 26, 2019, leading us to file a missing person's report with authorities."
"We have spent much time and effort in an attempt to help Rhett and bring him home safely, and we have been distraught and worried since his disappearance. We are cooperating fully with authorities and will provide them with all information they request concerning Rhett and his struggles. We ask that people please pray for Deputy Solano and his family."