Flowers and candles were among the items left at a memorial over the weekend for a 24-year-old off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer who was shot and killed, apparently after confronting a group that was vandalizing a Lincoln Heights building.
More than 100 people gathered for a vigil in Juan Jose Diaz's memory Saturday night in front of the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters building downtown, where others continue to leave remembrances. Among those participating were classmates who attended the Police Academy with Diaz, his two sisters, former teachers and former middle and high school classmates. Several officers at the vigil were in uniform with black mourning bands around their badges.
The vigil was held in front of a photo of a smiling Diaz with a sign that read: "Rest easy brother. We'll hold the line from here."
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Sgt. Manny Hernandez, Diaz's Police Academy sergeant in 2017, noted his pupil "was always asking questions.
"I saw him grow up and had no doubt he'd be a great police officer," Hernandez said. "He showed up every day with a smile on his face."
Diaz's sister, Anahi Diaz, told the crowd her brother was living his dream, noting he wanted to be a police officer since pre-school. Their mother and father "are broken," she said.
"We need to stop this madness," she told the crowd.
Diaz was shot early Saturday outside a taco stand in the area of Avenue 26 and Artesian Street and died at the scene, police said. A person flagged down a motorcycle officer to report the shooting.
The search continued Monday for his attacker.
"My understanding was there was some persons or person spray-painting a wall or something, committing an act of vandalism, and the officer -- I don't know what the conversation was -- walked away," Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told reporters at the scene. "There was no altercation that I know of, and then later, the officer was walking to his car and this person or persons went up and shot him."
Diaz had been with the department for two years, according the LAPD's Media Relations Section, and was last assigned to the Professional Standards Bureau.