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L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Dies After Suffering Gunshot Wound at Alhambra Restaurant

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva gives information on L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Solano at a Tuesday press conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles. Alhambra Police Chief Timothy Vu stands in the back. Solano died on Wednesday after being shot at a restaurant in Alhambra two days earlier. Photo from the L.A. Sheriff Facebook page.


Alhambra , CA United States

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was shot and critically wounded Monday at a fast food restaurant in Alhambra, has died, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s time to make a somber, sad announcement that Deputy Joseph Solano passed away this afternoon, despite the valiant efforts of the medical staff of [ L.A. County/USC Medical Center],” Villanueva said at a press conference outside the hospital, as recorded by Fox 11.

Solano, 50, was shot in the head as he waited for his food at a Jack In The Box restaurant in the 2500 block of West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra at around 5:45 p.m. on Monday. Villanueva said that someone alerted Solano that he was being followed in the restaurant. The shooting happened when Solano turned around to confront the person following him.

The motive for the shooting is unknown at this time.

A 13-year veteran of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, Solano was in civilian clothing at the time of the shooting and was not displaying anything that would identify him as a member of law enforcement.

Long Beach police officers detained Rhett Nelson, 30, of St. George, Utah as a suspect in the shooting on Tuesday. After receiving information about Nelson from a family member, officers identified his vehicle, which was also pictured in an L.A. Sheriff press release. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department arrested Nelson at 1 p.m. the same day.

Nelson is also suspected in a shooting death that occurred in the 1900 Block of 7th Street in Los Angeles on Monday around 4:50 p.m. That incident is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Nelson was reported missing in Utah by his family after leaving them on May 25, according to Alhambra Police Chief Timothy Vu, who announced Solano’s death to members of the public at an Alhambra Police Department community information meeting.

Alhambra police officers and firemen were among the first responders to the shooting, and were on the scene within minutes, Vu said. “This was a random situation [and is] not reflective of our community.”

He added that Alhambra police would continue to be involved in the investigation.

“I am shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano,” said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis in a statement. “I hope those who loved and worked with Deputy Solano will find the answers they need to reach some measure of healing in the coming months. My heart and my prayers are with his family.”

If the public has information involving the suspect Rhett Nelson, call Homicide Investigators at 323-890-5500. His booking photo can be viewed here.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

Dominic Tovar and Jon Thurber contributed reporting.

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