Third Suspect Arrested in Off-Duty Police Officer Killing

Third Suspect Arrested in Off-Duty Police Officer Killing
A picture of an off-duty Monterey Park police officer Gardiel Solorio who died in a fatal shooting in Downey, Calif. on Aug. 8, 2022. (Courtesy of City of Monterey Park)
City News Service

DOWNEY, Calif.—A third suspect has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of an off-duty Monterey Park police officer during what District Attorney George Gascón called a botched robbery attempt in Downey, police announced.

Gerardo Magallanes, 18, of San Pedro was arrested Aug.11 and booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Officer Gardiel Solorio, 26. Magallanes's alleged role in the shooting was not specified.

Solorio was in his vehicle in the parking lot of an LA Fitness gym in the 12700 block of Lakewood Boulevard, near the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway, around 3:30 p.m. Aug. 8 when a suspect—later identified as 20-year-old Carlos Delcid—allegedly got out of a car nearby and approached Solorio "with a gun drawn in what appeared to be an attempted robbery," Gascón said.

"Officer Solorio attempted to flee by backing up his vehicle when the suspect fired multiple times," Gascón said. "The [suspect] then returned back to the vehicle where a juvenile was behind the wheel and they fled the scene."

Solorio was found unresponsive in his car by authorities and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Downey police.

According to jail records, Delcid was arrested on charges of murder, attempted robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm around 9:30 p.m. Monday, roughly six hours after the shooting. The 17-year-old suspect who was allegedly driving the getaway car was also arrested and charged with a single count of murder in Compton Juvenile Court.

Funeral arrangements were still pending for Solorio, a rookie officer just weeks out of the academy. Monterey Park Police Department Chief Kelly Gordon called his killing "a senseless act of violence."

Gordon said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference that Solorio, who grew up in Bell Gardens and graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in criminal justice, joined the department as a recruit in January, and had just graduated from the sheriff's training academy on July 22 before beginning his field training on July 25.

“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,” Gordon said.

“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.”

Gordon added that training staff at the sheriff’s academy told her Solorio was “hard-working, dedicated and took every aspect of training seriously,” and that he was family oriented.

“The ‘why’ in the biography he wrote was to be a good role model for his nephews, and he really wanted to make an impact on the community,” Gordon said. “His classmates shared that Officer Solorio had all the characteristics of a great officer—he was humble, dedicated, selfless, and hard-working, but even a better person. He brought laughter and joy to many of us.”

A solemn procession involving officers from the Downey and Monterey Park police departments and Downey Fire Department escorted Solorio’s body to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office on Monday night. Funeral arrangements are still pending for Solorio.

“It’s a tremendous loss. It’s a loss of life,” Gordon said. “In law enforcement, but especially in the Monterey Park Police Department, we’re a family. That’s the bottom line. We have worked very hard to build a culture within our department that we take care of each other. This is a tragedy. This is a tragedy for his family, but this is a tragedy for the Monterey Park Police Department as well.”

On Wednesday morning, the flag at the Monterey Park Police Department was flying at half-staff and the department had received numerous floral arrangements for the fallen officer.

Solorio is survived by his parents, brothers, sisters, and fiancée.

On a GoFundMe page established to help cover expenses for the family to attend his funeral, Solorio’s sister-in-law, Wanda Marie Lane Solorio, wrote that it was his “lifelong dream” to be a police officer.

“His dream of becoming a police officer after years of hard work and dedication had finally come to fruition when life was abruptly taken away due to a senseless act of violence,” she wrote. “He was taken from his family way too soon. He was and has always been a true American success story.”

She said Solorio was the youngest of 13 children, and the family is hoping to raise money so all of his brothers and sisters can attend his funeral.

As of Wednesday morning, the family had raised more than $16,000.

“[He] was a first-generation college graduate, and the first [of] his family to become police office and brother in law enforcement,” Wanda Marie Lane Solorio wrote.

The arrest of Delcid has again led to criticisms by opponents of Gascón, who are seeking to have him recalled, claiming his policies against filing sentencing enhancements in criminal cases allowed the suspect to avoid extended jail time earlier this year.

Critics said Delcid should have been behind bars from a criminal case filed in February, in which he was charged with burglary, domestic violence, assault, false imprisonment, and witness intimidation.

According to court records, he pleaded no contest to the burglary and domestic violence counts and was sentenced March 10 to four years probation and 180 days in jail. Jail records indicate he was released from custody the next day, with credit for time already served.

Critics said if Gascón had allowed prosecutors to file a sentencing enhancement for the use of a knife in the case, Delcid may not have gotten such a lenient sentence and might still have been behind bars.