ALHAMBRA (CBSLA) — A somber vigil was held Thursday evening for slain Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano.
He was shot in the back of the head — in what officials believe was an unprovoked random attack — Monday evening while he was on line waiting to order food at an Alhambra Jack in the Box.
The suspect in the killing of the 50-year-old deputy was described by his family as a young man from Utah who has been battling drug addiction. Authorities say he was in the middle of a violent crime spree that allegedly included another murder and half a dozen armed robberies.
Many of Solano’s friends and family gathered in Alhambra Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil and as CBS2/KCAL9’s Chris Holmstom reported, mourners chose to remember how Solano lived rather than how he died.
Solano’s grieving son, Matthew Solano, was almost inconsolable as many reached out to offer support, hugs and prayers.
It was an evening of love and support for the entire Solano family as dozens remembered him.
His stepdaughter, Jessica Jiminez, spoke to the crowd.
“He didn’t deserve this – it’s a tough time for all of us,” she said.
She shared an emotional message from the entire family.
“He was a great man – and a great father and son brother and friend and I’m just so thankful that you guys are giving him and showing him everything that he possibly deserved,” she said.
Solano was a 13-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Department. About a dozen of his colleagues also came to show their support to the family. They even lined up to write final farewells.
Solano’s childhood friend, Victor Pallares, was also there.
“You know he’s off duty and dropping his car off for his mom to get service and comes in to grab something to eat and that’s the end of the watch. It’s just tough,” said Pallares.
It was also tough for strangers like Jason Villalba — he was working on Solano’s mom’s car when the unthinkable happened.
He had supportive words for the family. And he came to often physical support along with the emotional support.
“Just so the family can know that they are not alone, it is sad what happened. You never know what’s going to happen. And I’m sorry for their loss,” Villalba says.
The kinds words mean a lot to a family as they are living a nightmare.
“I appreciate everyone’s time and concern,” Matthew says, “and coming out to support my father it’s really heavy to come here and see the support from everyone, it means the world.”
The family said funeral arrangements are in the planning stages.