Well-Loved Deputy Loses His Life Due to “Senseless and Cowardly” Shooting
Photo: Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano
Los Angeles County Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano was shot at an Alhambra fast food restaurant and later succumbed to his wounds. The suspect, identified as a 30-year-old Rhett McKenzie Nelson from Saint George, Utah, now faces murder charges.
The incident took place on Monday, June 10, 2019, at approximately 5:45 PM. Deputy Solano was off-duty and dressed in civilian clothing that evening as he took his mother’s car to get an oil change at Jiffy Lube.
He decided to grab a quick bite at the nearby Jack in the Box in the 2500 block of West Valley Boulevard, Alhambra. While inside waiting for his food, a person inside the restaurant told Deputy Solano he was being followed. Deputy Solano subsequently turned around, and he was shot in the head with a revolver by suspect Nelson. Nelson fled the scene in a white Kia Sorento SUV.
Deputy Solano was transported to a local hospital, where he was put on life support and said to be “in grave condition.”
Surveillance video captured a clear image of Nelson’s clothing at the time of the incident as well as his change of clothes soon afterwards.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva hosted a press conference on Tuesday, June 11th, to release further details. At around 10:00 AM on Tuesday, Suspect Nelson went to a church in Long Beach on Clark Avenue, where he called his father and referred to committing two murders in Southern California.
Alarmed, Nelson’s father alerted the Long Beach Police Department. When police arrived at the church, they saw a vehicle, which matched the description of the vehicle used by the suspect in the Deputy Solano incident, drive away. Quickly after they coordinated a tactical stop of the vehicle, Nelson pulled into a residential driveway in the 2400 block of Granada Avenue in Long Beach, and police detained him without incident.
LA County Homicide Investigators took over the investigation and arrested Nelson at 1:00 PM. A warranted search of the vehicle revealed both the clothing and the revolver used in the shooting of Deputy Solano.
Nelson was also named as a suspect in a fatal shooting at the 1900 block of 7th Street in Los Angeles, which occurred less than an hour before Deputy Solano was shot. Eyewitness accounts of the suspect’s clothing and vehicle matched the descriptions given in the incident with Deputy Solano.
Deputy Solano passed away on Wednesday, June 12th.
There are no known indications that Nelson had a reason for his horrific actions in either of the murders. He was additionally linked to a string of other crimes in the days previous to the shootings. He appeared in court on Thursday, June 13th, to face charges.
In a statement regarding the deputy’s death, Sheriff Alex Villanueva wrote, “Deputy Solano was known as a kind-hearted and generous family man, a provider for his mother and an exemplary father to his children. We are a better Department because of his selfless service… Please join me in honoring Deputy Solano’s memory and keeping his family in our prayers. We appreciate the outpouring of support from everyone. Thank you.”