Friends, family and co-workers continued to mourn the death of Monterey Park Police officer Gardiel Solorio as the manhunt for his killer continued.
"Although his time with (the department) was very short, we all knew from the moment we met him that he had the heart of service and was going to be a great officer," said Chief Kelly Gordon.
"And I could tell that from the moment he walked in and did our first introductions in my office. The family and department are grieving right now, and this is an especially difficult tragedy. It's a senseless act of violence. He was only 26 years old. I don't know about all of you, but I have children that age. So to me, this is particularly difficult."
The 26-year-old grew up in Bell Gardens and graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in criminal justice. Solorio was hired by the Monterey Park Police Department in January as a recruit. He graduated from the academy less than a month ago.
"[He joined] to be a good role model to his nephews," said MPPD Chief Kelly Gordon. "And he really wanted to make an impact on the community."
Solorio was gunned down in the parking lot of a Downey L.A. Fitness in the 12700 block of Lakewood Boulevard in the parking lot of the Downey Landing shopping center. Downey police reported a call of shots fired at around 3:25 p.m., and when paramedics with Downey Fire Department arrived on the scene, they found Solorio sitting unresponsive in his Dodge Charger.
A good Samaritan and paramedics performed CPR on him but he was unfortunately pronounced dead at the scene.
"He was just an amazing guy," said friend Jenny Escobar. "I just can't believe that he's gone. He used to teach us how to workout."
The Monterey Park Police Department has received numerous floral arrangements while the flag flies at half-staff, in the wake of Solorio's death.
"What I have to say is that the loss of any life is tragic. The loss of this life is especially painful when it's one of your own," said Gordon. "This is all very fresh and we're mourning right now."
The circumstances surrounding the shooting were still unclear, though investigators disclosed that the officer's car was found to have crashed into another vehicle and that the driver-side window was blown out. It is not known if Solorio was targeted or if it was a random attack.
"I really don't want to comprise the investigation at this time and I understand there are a lot of questions," said Gordon. "I just ask that give us a little more time and patience as we allow the investigators to do their jobs."
As investigators continued to comb through the evidence, the Downey Police Department assured loved ones that they were working hard to
"Our detectives have been working non-stop to locate the suspects responsible for this senseless act," said Capt. Scott Loughner.
According to a GoFundMe page, Soloio was the youngest of 13 children. He leaves behind his mother, father, brothers, sisters and fiancée.
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