LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who was allegedly shot by a Utah man while standing in line at a fast food restaurant has died after two days on life support.
Joseph Gilbert Solano, 50, passed away Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters.
In custody after the shooting is 30-year-old Rhett Nelson, reported missing from St. George last month. Nelson later contacted and assured family he was fine and in California.
On Monday, police say Nelson walked into a Jack in the Box in suburban Alhambra, and shot Solano as he was waiting for his order at the counter. Solano was off duty and not in uniform.
“The deputy was alerted in the restaurant that someone was following him and that’s when he turned to confront it and that’s when the shooting happened,” Villanueva said. “But a motive or rationale from the suspect, that’s the million-dollar question.”
Nelson called his father, in St. George, after the shooting, LACSO captain Kent Wegener said at a Tuesday news conference.
“He referred to committing murder in Southern California,” Wegener said at a news conference Tuesday. Villanueva then added, “He referenced that he killed two.”
Nelson is also a suspect in the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old man standing on a L.A.street about an hour before Solano was shot. In both cases, the shootings appeared unprovoked and random.
Nelson’s father called the Long Beach Police Department to report what his son had said. Officials were able to track him down, sitting in a vehicle like the one seen at the scene of Solano’s shooting. His physical appearance also matched the suspect captured by surveillance cameras.
Nelson’s family has said he suffers from mental illness and struggled with opioids. His family was aware he had a gun, but believed if was for self-defense, according to reports.
Officials posted Nelson’s booking photo in hopes of tracking any other crimes he may have committed. On Wednesday, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the City of Carlsbad Police Department announced they “are investigating a series of armed robberies and their association to the arrest of Rhett Nelson in Los Angeles County.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officers pay tribute to their slain officer in the video below.
— LA County Sheriff's (@LASDHQ) June 13, 2019