LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter who has been missing since Aug. 20 in Baja California, Mexico, may have been the victim of a “violent kidnapping,'' Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday.
“I want to say very clearly to anybody who would kidnap a member of our fire department that this is a member of not just of our city, government, family but of our community here in Los Angeles,'' Garcetti said.
Garcetti made the announcement at the beginning of his COVID-19 update, and he said the information on LAFD's Francisco “Frank'' Aguilar was given to him just before the update.
Garcetti said, in response to reporters' questions, that he had no other information on the matter but will speak with federal authorities and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas more about the incident.
“We will work tirelessly to make sure that Frank is returned safely,'' Garcetti said. “This is somebody who has put his life on the line for us, and we will do everything in our power ... to ensure that law enforcement in Mexico has whatever support it needs.''
Aguilar, a 20-year veteran of the LAFD, disappeared Aug. 20 from his condominium near Rosarito and has not communicated with family members since then. The family filed a missing persons report with Mexican authorities, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The FBI has offered assistance to Mexican law enforcement authorities, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told City News Service last week.
Family members told KCAL9 that they went to check on Aguilar and found his vehicle missing and his condominium ransacked.
“If this message gets to anybody who would dare kidnap an Angeleno who serves the people of Los Angeles, let him go and make sure that he is able to safely return to our city and to his family,'' Garcetti said.
Aguilar owns a condominium in San Antonio Del Mar, which is between Tijuana and Rosarito, his brother Gabriel told the Daily News.
Relatives said Aguilar, 48, frequently visited the condominium.
“We were on FaceTime the other day, and he was on the beach and just talking ... about how it was so much fun and this was a little taste of what retirement would be like for him,'' his daughter Amaris said.
“I just pray with every fiber in my being that my father returns to us.''
LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders told reporters that the department is cooperating in the search for Aguilar, who is assigned to Station 44 in Cypress Park.