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Friday, July 1, 2022

2 fallen El Monte officers honored as ‘brave men’ in vigil

Hundreds of residents of the San Gabriel Valley joined government servants on Saturday evening and united at a vigil with family members of the two slain El Monte police officers, who were remembered for their bravery and commitment to the community.

The sudden, violent loss of two respected officers, Cpl. Michael Domingo Paredes, 42, and Officer Joseph Anthony Santana, 31 – both died when they confronted a gunman inside the Siesta Inn on Garvey Avenue on Tuesday, June 14 – heavily in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley. The Latino community has been shaken.

“He pursued his dreams and he did it with you – family and community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, speaking in Spanish and English. “The community stands with you.”

The pair of beloved officers was answering a call about a possible stabbing just before 5 p.m. on the day they died, officials said. He was immediately hit by bullets and was taken to LAC+USC Medical Center, where he died. The suspect they confronted, 35-year-old Justin Flores, was also killed in a shootout with police.

According to those who attended the collection of flowers and messages of thanks at the police station this week, the two officers who grew up in El Monte had strong ties to the community.

Officials said that Parades had worked as a full-time officer with the department since July 2000, serving in a number of specialized assignments before attaining the rank of corporal. He began his law enforcement career as a cadet with the El Monte Police.

Santana initially joined the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in September 2018 and worked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Sgt. SBCSD spokesman M. Higgins said. He was hired by the El Monte Police Department in 2021. He had also previously worked with the city as a part-time public works employee prior to his law enforcement career.

He leaves behind his wife, a daughter and two twin boys.

Parades also left behind a wife, a daughter and a son.

Santana’s mother, Olga Garcia, described him earlier this week as a reserved person who shared his relentless, dry sense of humor with those he was close with. He loved playing basketball, was generous with his time when off-duty and was always eager to help a friend in need.

While growing up, Santana looked up to her stepfather, who was also an El Monte police officer, her mother said. That relationship inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Like Santana, Paredes was forced to give back to the city that raised him, his uncle, Tony Paredes, said. He said that, as a child, El Monte officers were kind, attentive and respected their elders.

He recalled when his nephew had approached him to join the police academy in the late 90s and asked him to write a letter recommending the then aspiring officer to the department.

El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona Earlier this week, as were many others across the city, she described how the sudden, violent deaths of the town’s sons have shocked her community.

“Heartbreak doesn’t begin to express the loss we feel,” Ancona said Tuesday night. He said the two officers were “essentially ambushes while trying to keep a family safe.”

On Saturday night, Ancona said: “It is unfortunate that tragedy takes place in bringing the community together. However, I am grateful that we are here to mourn the lives of these two brave men.”

Victoria Martínez Muela, Lady of the El Monte City Council, expressed her condolences to the families of the officers at the alert.

While she was thinking about what she wanted to say on Saturday, she began to think about what gives comfort.

“A blanket,” said Martinez Muela. And like a beautiful tapestry, “We all have our own unique thread. But we are very strong woven together.”

And while the community just lost two officers, she said, “Our blanket is getting stronger and warmer today.”

“One thing is certain, you and I can never repay these people,” said El Monte Police Captain Ben Lawrie, acting police chief.

He asked the community to give priority to law and order.

“If we can make sense of this, (it) is that our public safety too often comes at an eventual price paid for by the blood of your law enforcement officer,” he said.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California, or PORAC, set up a fundraising campaign on behalf of the officers’ families.

The fundraiser can be found at porac.org/fundraiser/el-monte-police-officers/

World Nation News Desk
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