LINCOLN HEIGHTS (CBSLA) — An off-duty officer was killed and another person was injured early Saturday morning following a possible gang-related shooting in Lincoln Heights.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the off-duty police officer, later identified as 24-year-old Juan Jose Diaz, was at a Lincoln Heights taco stand with his girlfriend and her two brothers when a group of young men approached them and began making threats.
One of the men reportedly claimed his allegiance to a gang and told Diaz’s group they were in his territory before lifting his shirt to display a handgun.
A law enforcement source told the Times that Diaz, his girlfriend, and her brothers tried to leave in their car to avoid confrontation.
The gunman reportedly opened fire as Diaz and his group entered a vehicle, fatally wounding Diaz and injuring his girlfriend’s brother, the source told the Times.
“It is with deep, deep sorrow that we are here this morning to provide you with preliminary information on the death of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer which has occurred in the area of Avenue 26 and Figueroa,” said acting police Chief Beatrice Girmala.
According to Girmala, a civilian flagged down a member of the Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer just before 1 a.m. stating that there were shots fired and shots heard in the area. The officer requested additional resources and responded to the area of Avenue 26 and Artesian Street where he discovered two male victims with gunshot wounds. One, an off-duty LAPD officer, died from his wounds. The other victim was taken to the hospital and is undergoing treatment. His condition is unknown.
Girmala said all of the department’s available investigative resources and support services were at the scene.
“They are committed to doing a thorough, fair investigation that will lead us on the road to justice for what has occurred here today,” Girmala said.
LAPD Headquarters released a statement Saturday saying Diaz was with the department for a mere two years and was most recently assigned to Professional Standards Bureau.
Today, we mourn the tragic murder of Police Officer II Juan Diaz. Officer Diaz was a dedicated public servant and Angeleno that put service to others above all else. The void his loss leaves within our ranks will not soon be filled. pic.twitter.com/YDseQQDTL3
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 27, 2019
Mayor Eric Garcetti took to social media Saturday morning to express condolences for the officer.
“Angelenos are waking to the tragic news that one of our own @LAPDHQ officers was taken from us in a senseless murder,” he wrote. “Words cannot match our sorrow or ease the shock we feel over this reminder of the dangers that officers face every moment they wear the badge. This City will stand with the officer’s family every step of the way, and will not rest until we find and prosecute a vicious killer. My Crisis Response Team has been sent to comfort and assist the family at this moment of unthinkable grief.”
This City will stand with the officer’s family every step of the way, and will not rest until we find and prosecute a vicious killer. My Crisis Response Team has been sent to comfort and assist the family at this moment of unthinkable grief.
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) July 27, 2019
Governor Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer, offered their condolences while Newsom called on legislators to do more to fight gun violence.
“This morning’s tragic killing of off-duty LAPD Officer Juan Diaz is a painful reminder of the gun violence that exists within our country. Jennifer and I offer our sincere condolences to Officer Diaz’s parents and siblings, Chief Moore, the entire LAPD force and our extended law enforcement family,” a statement from the Governor’s Office read.
“As a state, we must do more to stop these senseless acts that continue to take lives. We owe it to 24-year-old Officer Diaz and all Californians.”
A police procession escorted Diaz’s body along a roughly one-mile route to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office at around 9 a.m. Saturday morning.
Girmala also said that the department is doing all it can to minimize the impact of the investigation on the community.
CHP said the offramp of the northbound 5 Freeway at Avenue 26 will be closed for up to 10 hours.
It is with a heavy heart that we can confirm the off-duty LAPD Officer has passed away as a result of the shooting. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 27, 2019