Utah Man Charged With Murder in Fatal Shooting of Deputy at Restaurant

Joseph Gilbert Solano was off duty and not in uniform when he was shot at the counter of an Alhambra Jack in the Box

A Utah man was charged Thursday in the shooting deaths of two people, including a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who was gunned down near the counter of a fast-food restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley.

Joseph Gilbert Solano was off duty and not in uniform when he was shot in the head at the counter Monday of an Alhambra Jack in the Box. Sheriff's officials said it was an apparently random attack that killed the 50 year old, 13-year department veteran, who died Wednesday at a hospital.

The man suspected in the shooting, identified as Rhett McKenzie Nelson, 30, of Utah, was arrested Tuesday after a short police chase in Long Beach. He was charged with murder Thursday in the Solano slaying, which was caught on security camera video, and the fatal shooting of Dmity Koltsov on June 10 in downtown Los Angeles.

In a statement, the prosecutor's office said Nelson fired at Koltsov from his vehicle. Details about the shooting were not immediately available.

Nelson also faces a count of attempted murder and two counts of second-degree robbery. Hours after shooting Solano, Nelson committed two robberies in Long Beach — one at a Shell station, another at a 7-Eleven, according to a statement from the district attorney's office.

The Jack in the Box video showed Solano inside the restaurant waiting for food when the attacker entered and shot the deputy in the head, according to investigators.

After his arrest, sheriff's investigators said a gun that appears to match the one used in the shooting and clothing Nelson allegedly wore at the time were found in his car.

Detectives were also investigating whether Nelson was responsible for other crimes Monday, including a shooting in the Los Angeles Police Department's Newton Division, officials said.

Nelson's arraignment Thursday was continued until July 22. Sixteen deputies, along with Solano's longtime girlfriend, son and stepdaughter were all present in the courtroom. They didn't wish to speak, and were escorted out by sheriff's deputies after the continuation. 

The charges were announced on the day loved ones and supporters of the fallen deputy held a vigil at the Jack in the Box in Alhambra where he was shot.

The Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing deputies, is collecting donations on behalf of Solano's family. Donations can be made to the ALADS CARES program at 2 Cupania Circle, Monterey Park, CA, 91755.

Patrick Healy contributed to this report.

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