Teen charged with murder in Downey police officer’s slaying – Los Angeles Times
A 16-year-old Bellflower resident was charged Friday with murder in the shooting death of a Downey police officer during a botched robbery earlier this week, prosecutors said.
Abel Diaz is scheduled to be arraigned later this afternoon in a Downey courtroom, and would face life in state prison if convicted in the killing of Officer Ricardo Galvez, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Diaz, who is being charged as an adult, is being held in lieu of $1 million. Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation said Diaz was not the gunman. The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Diaz and two others were arrested on suspicion of killing Galvez in a parking lot behind the Downey police station Wednesday night.
Outside the courtroom where Diaz was slated to appear on Friday, his older sister, Maricela Alvarado, insisted the teenager was not responsible for Galvez’s death.
“He didn’t do it. My brother never did it,” Alvarado, 24, said.
Alvarado also showed several reporters a text message she said she received from her brother just minutes after Galvez was shot. Her phone listed the sender as “Abelito.”
“Mari I love all y’all,” the text read. “my homie … up n did something.”
The message was sent at 11:18 p.m. Galvez was shot around 11 p.m., police have said.
While Diaz is already facing a murder charge, sheriff’s investigators also revealed Friday that the teenager and the other two men who were allegedly involved in the shooting may have also been responsible for a series of recent robberies in the area.
Before Galvez was fatally shot, the three suspects had been searching for victims to rob in the Downey, Lakewood and Bellflower area, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina.
“We have a couple of cases we are looking at them for,” Corina said.
Officials have not identified the other suspects, describing them only as two adult men, ages 21 and 18. Corina said police are withholding the other two names because they are still interviewing witnesses and victims in the other robbery cases.
On Friday, Corina said that the 16-year-old and the 18-year-old were the two who approached Galvez’s BMW as he sat in a publicly accessible parking lot in civilian clothing after completing a training session around 11 p.m.
Corina said one of the pair fired a revolver, killing Galvez, a 29-year-old Marine reservist who twice served overseas. The 21-year-old acted as the getaway driver after the fatal shots were fired, Corina said.
All three are expected to face murder charges and could be eligible for the death penalty.
Authorities said three suspects immediately fled the parking lot in a Nissan, but they were pursued by a Downey police officer who heard the gunfire. The officer, who was about to leave on patrol, contacted the station to tell them what he had heard and started chasing the vehicle.
The patrol officer pursued the Nissan north to Montebello. The driver was taken into custody. The other two attack suspects were captured in a nearby residence on Thursday morning, authorities said.
Once they were in custody, the suspects admitted to trying to rob Galvez, according to Corina, who said Galvez was not targeted because he was a police officer.
“There was nothing indicating that he was a police officer when he was shot,” Corina said. “I don’t think he even really saw these guys coming up on him.”
Nothing was taken from Galvez, authorities said. After reviewing surveillance footage and forensic evidence at the scene, including the revolver used in the attack, Corina said homicide detectives are satisfied that no other suspects were involved in the shooting.
Galvez became a Downey police officer five years ago. Prior to the shooting, he had been training at another location with police dogs.
The last time a Downey police officer was killed in the line of duty was nearly 35 years ago. Officer Wayne Richard Presley, a nine-year police veteran, was struck and killed by a drunk driver on April 10, 1981.
Times staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.