LOS ANGELES (CNS) - 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 today.
A civilian flagged down a Los Angeles Police Department 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. One victim, the off-duty officer, 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 the male officer 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.
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.”
Garcetti later released a statement identifying the victim as Officer Juan Diaz. His age was not yet available.
“Our hearts are with Officer Diaz's family and friends,” the mayor said. “They are experiencing a loss that no one should have to suffer, under circumstances that outrage us all. My promise is that we will hold them close, stand with them every step of the way -- and never tire until we find and prosecute the vicious criminals responsible for this horrific tragedy.
“I also want every Angeleno to be mindful of Officer Diaz's brothers and sisters in uniform -- they are coping with an unthinkable tragedy, while carrying forward a mission that drove him every day of his courageous career: protecting and serving our people with the honor, valor, and integrity befitting the memory of a fallen hero.
“Words cannot match the depth of sorrow that Angelenos are feeling today. The senseless murder of Officer Juan Diaz is a shocking reminder of the dangers that LAPD officers face every moment they wear the badge, and the absolute courage and selflessness with which they uphold the oath each day.”
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.
At around 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.
Photo: Los Angeles Police Department