LOS ANGELES, California, June 11, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A St. George, Utah, man is in police custody after being identified as the prime suspect in the shooting of an off-duty L.A. County sheriff’s deputy Monday night. Now police say he also is believed to have been involved in a killing in Los Angeles earlier in the day.
Rhett Nelson, 30, was arrested in Long Beach after making a phone call to his father and talking about “committing murder,” according to L.A. County Sheriff’s investigator Capt. Kent Wegener. Nelson’s father alerted authorities, who traced the son’s cellphone to a church parking lot.
Nelson was taken into custody less 24 hours after he allegedly walked into an Alhambra fast-food restaurant and shot off-duty L.A. County Deputy Joseph Solano in the head.
The gravely wounded Solano, 50 — a 13-year veteran of the force — was listed in critical condition Tuesday and on life support at L.A. County-USC Medical Center.
Investigators say Solano was off-duty and in plain clothes while standing in line at a Jack in the Box on Valley Boulevard at the time of the shooting.
Witnesses told police Nelson “lingered” in the restaurant before shooting the deputy. The motive remains a mystery.
Detectives say Nelson is also a suspect in the shooting death of another man, which happened about an hour earlier Monday. LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the media the victim was standing on the street when a man matching Nelson’s description pulled up and opened fire.
Moore said a weapon found in Nelson’s car matched descriptions of the gun used in both shootings.
Police say Nelson had been in the Southern California area since the beginning of June and had been reported as a missing person.