Fallen California police officers 'ambushed while trying to keep a family safe,' says mayor

Critics are blaming Los Angeles Democratic DA George Gascon for the officers' deaths

Updated: June 15, 2022 - 9:01pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Two California police officers were murdered in broad daylight on Tuesday while responding to a domestic dispute at a motel in Los Angeles County when the suspect, who was reportedly already on probation for a gun charge, ambushed them.

The El Monte Police Department announced that Cpl. Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana were "killed in the line of duty, while faithfully carrying out their sworn duties." 

El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona said the officers were "essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe."

Pardes, a 22-year-veteran of the department, is survived by his wife and two children. 

Santana, who had only been on the department for less than a year, leaves behind his wife and three children.

The suspect has been identified by family members as Justin Flores, 35, who was fatally shot in a gunfight with officers responding to a domestic dispute at a motel, CBS LA reported.

Records show Flores had been on probation since February 2021 after received a plea deal under Democratic LA District Attorney George Gascon.

As a felon in possession of a firearm, Flores could have been in prison for three years, but because he pleaded no contest, he received the lesser sentence of probation and 20 days in jail.

Local CBS reporter Jeff Vaughn observed that Flores was convicted of burglary in 2011 and his records show at least a dozen other cases.

Sources in the LA DA office told Fox News' Bill Melugin that "if this case had been prosecuted without Gascon’s policies in Feb 2021, Flores would have likely been behind bars on a 2.5-3 year minimum sentence."

Flores' wife, Diana Flores, told CBS LA on Wednesday: "I'm so deeply sorry. My condolences for saving me... I'm so sorry. They didn't deserve that. They were trying to help me."

Gascon, who may soon be recalled, received national criticism following the incident. 

"Officers Paredes and Santana gave their lives in the service of their fellow citizens," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted. "It is outrageous the murderer was not in jail due to the reckless actions of George Gascon, a radical, soft-on-crime, Soros-backed DA.

"Gascon flat out murdered those guys," Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter wrote on Twitter.

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