Family members and friends gathered at a candlelight vigil Sunday for a grandfather who was mistakenly shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy during a standoff in Pico Rivera.
The group gathered on Frank Mendoza’s lawn, singing songs and praying for the 54-year-old who was months away from retirement.
"He's pretty much why (I am) the man I am today,” said Mendoza’s son, Frank Mendoza Jr., as he held back tears. “His values are in me. I place whatever he taught me into my kids, and that's why my kids are such wonderful people."
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Frank Mendoza was killed Friday night when a parolee allegedly broke into his home in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive and got into a shootout with deputies during an hours-long standoff, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
As deputies entered the home in search of the suspected gunman, one of them came across Mendoza and fired two shots at him, said sheriff's Chief Bill McSweeney. McSweeney said the incident remained under investigation.
Neighbors said they were angered by the deputy’s actions.
“They’re trigger-happy, they want to unload on anybody,” said next door neighbor, Adrian Monge. "All we heard was shots and cars. In a hostage situation the first priority is the hostage, and that’s who they killed first, was the hostage, and I don't understand that."
Mendoza’s family said they have an attorney. They also said they believe the Sheriff’s Department will pay for Mendoza’s funeral and well as repairs for the house.
A memorial made up of candles, balloons, stuffed animals and messages was set up outside the home. Items were also left for the alleged gunman.
Sheriff’s officials were expected to release more details on the incident Monday morning.
The family planned to conduct a fundraiser at 5 p.m. Thursday at Falcones Pizza in Pico Rivera.