El Monte, CA – The gunman accused of murdering two El Monte police officers at a motel on Tuesday night was a convicted felon who was out on probation for a firearms offense at the time of the attack.
Family members of the shooter identified the suspect as 35-year-old Justin William Flores, KNBC reported.
The fatal encounter occurred at the Siesta Inn near Central Avenue and Garvey Avenue at approximately 4:30 p.m. on June 14, according to KABC.
El Monte Police Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana responded to the motel after receiving a report of a possible stabbing and located a male suspect inside one of the rooms, KNBC reported.
Law enforcement sources said they believe at least one of the two officers was familiar enough with Flores to have recognized him on sight and by name, according to the news outlet.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) Captain Andrew Meyer said that when the officers confronted Flores, “an officer-involved shooting occurred,” CNN reported.
“They were essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe,” added El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona.
Flores allegedly fired at Cpl. Paredes and Officer Santana inside the motel room, then fled out into the parking lot, where he again exchanged gunfire with the officers, KABC reported.
The suspect was fatally wounded during the shootout and was pronounce dead at the scene.
Investigators said they recovered a gun lying near the suspect’s body, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cpl. Paredes and Officer Santana were both rushed to Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, where they succumbed to their wounds.
The procession for fallen El Monte Police Cpl. Michael Paredes & Officer Joseph Santana. EOW 06.14.2022. ⚫️🔵⚫️ pic.twitter.com/2sL2ZyFSgj
— osv_321 (@osv_321) June 15, 2022
Cpl. Paredes, a married father of two, served the El Monte Police Department (EMPD) for 22 years, the agency said in a press release on Wednesday.
Officer Santana previously spent three years working for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and had joined the EMPD less than one year ago.
He leaves behind his wife, daughter, and twin sons.
“Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana paid the ultimate sacrifice, while in performance of a noble profession, serving the community they loved,” the EMPD said.
It is with heavy hearts that The City of El Monte & The El Monte Police Department announce the passing of Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana. Corporal Paredes & Officer Santana were killed in the line of duty, while faithfully carrying out their sworn duties 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/wIzwjy6Iga
— El Monte PD (@elmontepolice) June 15, 2022
Flores’ wife, Diana Flores, said she was with her husband when the 911 call about the potential stabbing was placed, CBS News reported.
She was not injured during the incident.
Diana Flores said she is “deeply sorry” for the loss of the officers, CBS News reported.
“My condolences for saving me,” she said. “I’m so sorry. They didn’t deserve that. They were trying to help me.”
Investigators said the alleged gunman was “well known” by local police and that he had dozens of convictions on his criminal history, according to KNBC.
Flores was convicted of burglary in 2011 and was sentenced to two years in prison, KNBC reported.
He was also sentenced to prison for car theft, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Flores was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm in March of 2020 and was sentenced to 20 days in jail and two years of probation in February of 2021.
In exchange for his guilty plea in the 2020 case, prosecutors dismissed charges of methamphetamine possession and being a felon in possession of ammunition, KNBC reported.
According to court records, Flores was charged with at least a dozen other crimes over the years, many of which resulted in probation sentences.
Police sources said Flores was also a member of the Whittier-based Quiet Village gang, the Los Angeles Times reported.
— AlexVnews (@alexvnews) June 16, 2022
Just one day before the motel shooting, Flores’ probation officer filed a petition for revocation of his probation due to “desertion,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Investigators said the petition was partially triggered by a domestic violence incident that occurred one week before the fatal shooting, but Flores was not arrested for that alleged probation violation.
Los Angeles County Probation Department Spokesperson Karla Tovar said the department was “currently investigating” why he wasn’t arrested at that time, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Flores’ mother, Lynn Covarrubias, said her son and his wife were separated and that he would often stay at the Siesta Inn.
Covarrubias said it upset her to hear police calling her son a “coward,” regardless of what happened at the motel, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“It hurts to hear them say that,” she said. “He was a person too. He had a daughter. I want them to know, in spite of what happened, he was loving and caring.”