Arrest in ‘random’ shooting of off-duty L.A. deputy ordering food, officials say

An off-duty Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy shot in the back of the head Monday evening while ordering dinner at a Jack in the Boxhas died, KNBreports.

The 13-year veteran officer, identifed as Joseph Solano, 50, died Wednesday of his injuries, according to the station.

“Unfortunately, we lost him,” said Matthew Solano, his son, KNBC reported. “He was a really good dad.”

Solano was shot as he stood at a counter at 5:45 p.m. Monday at the restaurant in the 2500 block of West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, KABC reported. The apparently random incident was captured on security video.

“I was actually sitting down in the break room when all I heard was a loud bang,” said employee Jesus Guzman, KCBS reported. “I go lean over and I see, I think he got shot in the head because there was a hole in his head.”

Solano, who was in civilian clothes, had gone to the Jack in the Box while waiting for the oil in his ailing mother’s car to be changed, according to the station.

Police arrested Rhett Nelson, 30, of St. George, Utah, in Long Beach, California, on Tuesday on suspicion of the shooting, KABC reported.

He’s also suspected in a fatal shooting earlier Monday night in central Los Angeles, in which a 30-year-old man died, KTLA reported.

Nelson reportedly called his father from a Long Beach church Tuesday morning, confessing that he’d killed two people, KTLA reported. His father notified police, who spotted Nelson driving away from the church in a vehicle matching the description of the one spotted after Solano’s shooting.

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department officials had earlier declared a manhunt for Solano’s assailant.

“It’s time to turn him in,” said Capt. Kent Wegener, the Los Angeles Times reported. “You don’t want to be associated with this man, and the sheriff’s department is going to spare no resources to locate this suspect.”

A $100,000 reward, funded by Los Angeles County and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, had been offered in the case, according to the publication.

“Whomever carried out this cowardly attack; we won’t rest until we find you and ensure justice is brought swiftly upon you,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva wrote on Twitter.

Solano is listed in grave condition on life support, KABC reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.