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Man Arrested In Shooting Deaths Of Off-Duty Sheriff's Deputy And Pedestrian

L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Solano, a 13-year veteran, was shot while off-duty on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Courtesy of L.A. County Sheriff's Department)
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Updated June 12

An off-duty deputy who was shot in the head earlier this week has died, according to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, police arrested a suspect in connection with the shooting, and in a stunning development, law enforcement officials said the suspect was also believed to have shot and killed a man near downtown L.A. less than an hour earlier.

Long Beach police arrested Rhett Mckenzie Nelson, 30, of Utah at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday after Nelson's father called them. L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the elder Nelson reached out after his son called him from a church in Long Beach and told him he had murdered two people.

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Villanueva said it's too soon to determine a motive for the two shootings.

The sheriff had earlier identified the off-duty deputy who was shot as 50-year-old Joseph Solano, a 13-year veteran of the department who was working at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, which has a small facility to treat inmates with medical problems. Solano had been in grave condition and on life support since Monday, the sheriff said.

Solano is survived by his adult children. The off-duty officer was shot in the head at a Jack in the Box in Alhambra shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday. He had been getting an oil change for his mother's car at a Jiffy Lube next door to the fast food eatery, Villanueva said.

Solano was not in uniform or carrying a gun or badge that would have identified him as a sheriff's deputy.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said his department believes Nelson also fatally shot a pedestrian on the 1900 block of E. 7th Place, in downtown L.A., shortly before 5 p.m. Monday.

Someone in the same type of vehicle wearing the same clothes and matching the physical description of the Alhambra shooter pulled up and exchanged words with the pedestrian before opening fire and driving away, Moore said.

Officials said they were not ready to identity the individual who was killed.

After Nelson's father called Long Beach police, officers went to the church and ended up following Nelson, who was driving a 2012 Kia Sorento SUV, the same car that had been identified from the Alhambra shooting. They pulled him over and detained him without incident shortly thereafter.

Sheriff's homicide detectives took over the investigation at that point. Sheriff's Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said Nelson looked like the individual seen in surveillance video from the Jack in the Box shooting, and a hat and maroon shirt the suspect had been seen wearing were in the back seat of his car. In addition, detectives recovered a revolver from Nelson's car "matching the gun used in the [Jack in the Box] assault," Wegener said.

Nelson is from St. George, Utah, and arrived in L.A. in the first week of June, Villanueva said. Nelson's family had posted flyers on social media identifying him as missing, he said.

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Frank Stoltze contributed to this story.


6:12 p.m. Wednesday: This article was updated with news of Deputy Joseph Solano's death.

This article was originally published Tuesday, June 11.

Correction: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect address for the location LAPD officials believe the suspect fatally shot a pedestrian earlier Monday. LAist regrets the error.