Two police officers — one a 22-year veteran and the other a rookie — were shot and killed in the Los Angeles County city of El Monte late Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. The suspect is also dead. The mayor said the officers were "essentially ambushed."
The El Monte officers were identified Wednesday as Cpl. Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana. Paredes, the longtime veteran of the department, is survived by his wife, daughter and son, police said. Santana, who previously worked as a public works employee and with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department before joining the police department in his hometown, is survived by his wife, daughter and twin sons.
"Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana paid the ultimate sacrifice, while in performance of a noble profession, serving the community they loved," police said in a statement Wednesday.
The shooting occurred at about 4:45 p.m. local time when El Monte officers responded to a report of a stabbing at a motel. When they arrived, they "immediately took gunfire," police said.
The two officers were rushed to a hospital where they later died, police said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the suspect was shot and died at the scene.
City officials said the two officers were responding to a domestic violence report between a boyfriend and girlfriend.
According to police, the shootout started in the motel room. The suspect then fled into the motel parking lot, where another shootout occurred.
"As our officers do on a daily basis, they were acting as the first line of defense for our community members when they were essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe," said El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona.
El Monte police said one officer had 22 years of experience and the other was with the department less than a year. The mayor said the veteran officer grew up and attended the school in the city.
"They paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their community trying to help somebody," Lowry remarked. "They do what hundreds of thousands of men and women do every day across the United States. They took an oath to protect people and to serve them. These two heroes paid the ultimate sacrifice. They were murdered by a coward."
"We are grieving and it hurts," Lowry said.
Interim El Monte Police Chief Ben Lowry observed, "I've heard that the only way to take the sting out of death is to take the love out of life. Believe me, they were loved. These two men were loved. They were good men."
A witness, Arthur Kintsbury, told CBS L.A. he heard five gunshots before additional officers arrived. He said two more officers got there later and also came under fire. They scrambled for cover.
"I saw the suspect was on the ground," Kintsbury said. "I already knew, considering he was laying there motionless, he was deceased."
Although the identity of the suspect has not been officially released by authorities, he was identified to CBS Los Angeles on Wednesday by family members as Justin Flores.
In 2009, Flores was sentenced to 16 months in prison for vehicle theft, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told CBS Los Angeles. He served about two months of that sentence before being paroled. In 2011, he was sentenced to two years in prison for first-degree burglary. He served about 10 months before being paroled again.
The city of El Monte and El Monte police said in a joint statement that, "There are no words to describe our grief and devastation by this senseless act as we learned about the passing of two of our police officers. It weighs heavy on our hearts and we are sending our support to their families."
This latest shooting comes a day after a. He is in critical but stable condition.
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