El Monte

‘They're Heroes': Mourners Pay Tribute to Slain El Monte Police Officers

Investigators say the officers exchanged gunfire with a man at a motel and he was also killed Tuesday.

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The community came out to pay tribute to two El Monte police officers who were shot and killed Tuesday.

Hundreds of people have been stopping by throughout the day to pay their respects to the officers, letting their colleagues at the station know. They're not alone in their grief.

Family members of the officers came to see the memorial that has been growing outside the police station

"I pray for the police officers because they give their lives," said Mary Paredes Andujar, an aunt of one of the officers. "They have to protect us and the whole city."

The two officers were killed in a shootout at the Siesta Inn motel.

"They're heroes," said El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona. "They showed up in response to what we believe was a domestic violence situation and unfortunately were met with gunfire."

Investigators say the officers exchanged gunfire with a man at the motel and he was also killed.

That man's mother identifies him as Justin Flores, 35, a construction worker, who sometimes lived at the motel.

Dozens of officers from other police departments showed their support.

"Our folks put this uniform on everyday and go out and protect our community the best they can," said Alhambra Police Chief Kelley Fraser. "We pray everyday something like this doesn't happen but the reality is, you don't want that kind of call but it happened."

The city of El Monte says Joseph Santana had worked as an El Monte police officer less than a year, after spending three years as a deputy sheriff with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

He's survived by his wife, a daughter, and twin sons.

Michael Paredes started as a cadet and worked for 22 years on the force, being appointed to the rank of corporal. He's survived by his wife and a son and daughter.

Dozens of El Monte public works employees turned out to pay their respects. Joseph Santana worked with them prior to becoming a police officer.

"We were kind of sad to see him leave the public works department but we knew this is what he wanted to do," said Robert Triay, an El Monte public works employee.

Andujar, the aunt, said he desired to be a police officer.

"And we were stunned because he's not that tall," she said. "And he went to high school and he made it, and we were so proud of him… so proud."

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