LOS ANGELES — An off-duty Los Angeles police officer was killed in a shooting in the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles and the shooter was at- large Saturday.
The officer was later identified as Juan Jose Diaz, 24, who was last assigned to the department’s Professional Standards Bureau, the Los Angeles Police Department said. Diaz had been with the department for two years, according the LAPD’s Media Relations Section.
A civilian flagged down an LAPD motorcycle officer shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday to report a shooting in the area of Avenue 26 and Artesian Street, according to Assistant Police Chief Beatrice Girmala.
The officer called for backup officers, who responded to the scene and located two victims suffering from gunshot wounds, Girmala said. Diaz was pronounced dead at the scene and the second victim was taken to a hospital in unknown condition, she said.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department corroborated Girmala’s account, adding that paramedics were dispatched at 12:50 a.m. to the 2600 block of East Artesian Street, where one person was pronounced dead at the scene and another person was transported to an area hospital.
A description of the shooter was not released.
The Los Angeles Times, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, said Diaz was with his girlfriend and her two brothers eating at the taco stand when a group of young men approached them and began making threats prior to the shooting, with one of them showing a gun in his waistband.
“My understanding was there was some persons or person spray-painting a wall or something, committing an act of vandalism, and the officer — I don’t know what the conversation was — walked away, there was no altercation that I know of, and then later, the officer was walking to his car and this person or persons went up and shot him,” Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told reporters at the scene.
Police Chief Michel Moore is out of the country, with Girmala serving as acting chief in his absence. Moore has been in constant contact with the department regarding the shooting, Girmala said, and he shared his thoughts on Twitter. “We mourn the tragic loss of a young officer killed in an act of senseless violence and ask for our community’s support in finding this killer,” he wrote.
Mayor Eric Garcetti also took to social media to express condolences on behalf of the city. “Angelenos are waking to the tragic news that one of our own @LAPDHQ officers was taken from us in a senseless murder,” the mayor posted. “Words cannot match our sorrow or ease the shock we feel over this reminder of the dangers that officers face every moment they wear the badge.
“This city will stand with the officer’s family every step of the way, and will not rest until we find and prosecute a vicious killer. My Crisis Response Team has been sent to comfort and assist the family at this moment of unthinkable grief.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted: “My sincere condolences go out to the LAPD family for the tragic death of one of their officers. We are here to support our brothers and sisters @LAPDHQ in any way we can. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends. @LASDHQ”
A SigAlert, requested at 2:55 a.m. to close for an unknown duration the Avenue 26 off-ramp from the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway and the Avenue 26 off-ramp to the southbound Harbor (110) Freeway, was canceled at 8:07 a.m., the California Highway Patrol said. Several nearby streets were also blocked as the investigation continued, and police said the area was expected to be blocked off for several hours.
At about 9 a.m., a procession of police and other public safety agencies escorted the officer’s body along a roughly one-mile route to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.