Detectives on Wednesday continued to scour the scene of a shootout at an El Monte motel that led to the deaths of two police officers and an apparent gunman as they tried to piece together what led to the violence.
Early in the day, police were still milling around the parking lot outside the Siesta Inn amid evidence markers scattered on the asphalt marking where an El Monte officer shot the man to death Tuesday afternoon. The suspected gunman was killed after he ran out of the motel — inside, he had exchanged fire with two other El Monte officers, investigators said.
The officers were found dead, with their bodies later carried in a procession from L.A. County/USC Medical Center to the coroner’s office later that night.
UPDATE: 2 El Monte police officers killed in motel shooting are identified
Authorities identified the officers as Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana. In a statement, officials said Paredes had been an El Monte officer since 2000, and is survived by his wife, daughter and son.
Santana worked for El Monte in the city’s public works department, before he became a deputy in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. He returned to El Monte to be a police officer last year. He is also survived by his wife, daughter and twin boys.
Paredes and Santana grew up in El Monte. David Reynoso, the city’s former police chief, said he said he knew them both.
“Not only were they fine police officers, but even better human beings and family men,” Reynoso said.
What led to the shooting was still not clear Wednesday morning. Homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were at the scene, moving in and out of a mobile crime lab while they investigated the incident.
The two El Monte officers were called to the motel at 10327 Garvey Avenue just after 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. Captain Andrew Meyer of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said they were responding to a call about a possible stabbing.
When they got there, they confronted a man inside the motel. Gunfire erupted, then the man ran into the parking lot. He was shot to death there by another arriving officer.
The man has also not been identified yet. His body remained in the parking lot until Wednesday morning. The coroner’s office said he was in his 30s.
Meyer said a woman found inside the man’s motel room was believed to be his girlfriend. He said detectives interviewed her Tuesday night. Officials haven’t said whether she was injured before El Monte police arrived.
By around 9:30 a.m., residents in the area were waking up to find the section of Garvey outside the Siesta Inn blocked off with police tape.
Outside El Monte’s police headquarters, mourners surrounded a statue of an eagle inflight with dozens of bouquets of flowers.
Karina Serna said she worked with the rookie officer. She said news of the shooting that killed him “broke my heart.”
“I was at work when it happened,” she said. “It’s sad. I feel for…his kids, his family. It sucks.”
Ann Almonte is a pastor at Power to Choose Ministries, formerly of El Monte, now in La Puente. Almonte also was among those brining flowers.
“We are here for them and we love them,” Almonte said of El Monte police.