Two men were charged Monday with murder in the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old Downey officer last week in the police department parking lot.
Steve Knott, 18, and Jeremy Alvarez, 21, were charged with special circumstance murder in the shooting death of Officer Ricky Galvez during a botched robbery attempt Wednesday night. A 16-year-old Bellflower boy also was charged as an adult with murder in connection with the killing.
Abel Diaz, who will turn 17 next week, appeared in a courtroom in Downey Friday and was held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his arraignment, which was postponed to this morning. If convicted of the murder charge, Diaz could face up to life in state prison, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
The complaint amended this week includes a special circumstance that the murder occurred during an attempted robbery, and includes gun and gang allegations.
Suspects in Officer Death Due in Court
All three suspects were in court Monday. If convicted, Knott and Alvarez could face the death penalty if prosecutors decide later to seek that option.
Diaz, because of his age, faces up to life in state prison if convicted as charged. He did not enter a plea. He's set to appear in court again on Dec. 17.
The courtroom on Monday was packed with the suspects' family members as well as relatives of the slain officer.
Diaz is charged in the killing of Galvez, who was fatally shot about 11 p.m. Wednesday while sitting in his BMW 335 in a public civic center parking lot adjacent to the Downey police station in the 11000 block of Brookshire Avenue. The five-year department veteran died at the scene.
The teen and two young men under arrest are considered the only suspects in the Galvez killing.
Alvarez, the driver of the vehicle believed to be involved in the robbery attempt, was taken into custody following a police pursuit that ended in the 1000 block of Carob Way in Montebello soon after the shooting. Officers caught Alvarez as he tried to run through the backyards of homes, according to the sheriff's department.
Authorities said the other two suspects were seen fleeing into a nearby home and taken into custody by members of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department special weapons team after warrants were obtained, officials said.
Outside the Downey courthouse, Diaz's sister, Maricela Alvarado, said her brother told her he did not shoot Galvez. She showed reporters a text message Diaz sent her at 11:18 p.m. Wednesday, about 20 minutes after the shooting.
"Mari I love all y'all," the message read. "My homie (expletive) up n did something."
Investigators believe the suspects were out to rob someone and were unaware that Galvez was an officer or that they were in a rear parking lot of the police station, sheriff's Lt. John Corina told reporters Thursday at police headquarters.
Corina said a Downey police officer in his patrol vehicle heard the shooting and chased the suspect vehicle. At the same time, another Downey officer came outside and found the fatally wounded officer.
A handgun allegedly discarded by one of the suspects was recovered. Investigators believe it was used to kill Galvez, according to the sheriff's department.
According to Downey police, Galvez was on duty and returning to the police station from a training program during which he acted as a K-9 agitator.
Referring to Galvez as "Ricky," Downey police Chief Carl Charles described the officer as "a tremendous young man, who loved serving the residents of Downey."