LAPD: Off-Duty Officer Killed by ‘Gang Member’ While Trying to Stop Vandals

Police are still looking the shooter who killed 24-year-old LAPD Officer Juan Jose Diaz at a Los Angeles taco stand. (Courtesy of LAPD)
LAPD

An off-duty cop with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was fatally shot by a suspected gang member after he tried to confront a group of vandals in the city’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood.

Officer Juan Jose Diaz, 24, was with his girlfriend and her two brothers eating at a taco stand in Lincoln Heights around 1 a.m. Saturday when he noticed a group of people allegedly vandalizing a nearby property, KABC reported.

When the officer asked the suspected vandals to stop, one of the men identified himself as a gang member and told him that the property was his territory. That same gang member reportedly threatened Diaz with a gun.

To avoid escalating the situation, Diaz and his companions tried to get into their vehicle to flee the scene before the self-described gang member started shooting.

The shooting killed the off-duty cop and injured one other man.

Assistant Police Chief Beatrice Girmala confirmed Diaz’s death at a 6 a.m. press conference. Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti later said in a statement that the slain officer worked in the department’s Professional Standards Bureau.

“The senseless murder of Officer Juan Diaz is a shocking reminder of the dangers that LAPD officers face every moment they wear the badge, and the absolute courage and selflessness with which they uphold the oath each day,” Garcetti said, expressing his condolences to Diaz’s family and friends.

Diaz had only served as an officer in the department for two years. Dozens of family and friends gathered outside LAPD headquarters Saturday evening to hold a vigil for him.

Police believe the suspected gunman belonged to the Avenues gang, which is the focus of the LAPD’s investigation, according to one law enforcement official.

LAPD said it would not release any information about the other suspected gang members or the injured man’s identity and condition.

No arrests have been made as of Monday.

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