NORWALK, Calif. – Two men pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder in connection with the fatal shooting of an off-duty Monterey Park police officer during what Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón called a botched robbery attempt in Downey.
Carlos Delcid — who is accused of gunning down off-duty Officer Gardiel Solorio on Aug. 8 — is charged with one count each of murder, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery.
Delcid, 20, could face a potential life prison term without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.
Co-defendant Gerardo Magallanes, 18, is facing one count each of murder, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and unlawful firearm activity, according to the criminal complaint.
A 17-year-old suspect who was allegedly driving the getaway car was also arrested and charged with one count of murder in Compton Juvenile Court. He has denied the Juvenile Court petition and is due back in court Sept. 14.
Solorio was in his vehicle in the parking lot of an LA Fitness gym in the 12700 block of Lakewood Boulevard, near the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway, around 3:30 p.m. Aug. 8 when a suspect — later identified as Delcid — allegedly got out of a car nearby and approached the 26-year-old Solorio “with a gun drawn in what appeared to be an attempted robbery,” Gascón said at an Aug. 10 news conference.
“Officer Solorio attempted to flee by backing up his vehicle when the suspect fired multiple times,” Gascón said. “The (suspect) then returned back to the vehicle where a juvenile was behind the wheel and they fled the scene.”
Solorio was found unresponsive in his car by authorities, and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Downey police.
Delcid was arrested around 9:30 p.m. that day, roughly six hours after the shooting, according to jail records.
Magallanes was taken into custody Aug. 11 by Downey police, jail records show.
The 17-year-old allegedly drove Delcid and Magallanes to the parking lot, where Delcid allegedly approached Solorio with a firearm in an attempt to rob him and take his car , according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Delcid allegedly shot the off-duty officer — a rookie just weeks out of the academy — as Solorio backed out of the parking space while the teenager and Magallanes allegedly waited nearby, with Delcid allegedly returning to the waiting car and fleeing with the minor and Magallanes, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Monterey Park Police Department Chief Kelly Gordon called his killing “a senseless act of violence.”
The police chief said at a news conference last month that Solorio, who grew up in Bell Gardens and graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in criminal justice, joined the department as a recruit in January, and had just graduated from the sheriff’s training academy on July 22 before beginning his field training July 25.
“Although his time with (the department) was very short, we all knew from the moment we met him that he had the heart of service and was going to be a great officer,” the police chief said.
“And I could tell that from the moment he walked in and did our first introductions in my office. The family and department are grieving right now, and this is an especially difficult tragedy. It’s a senseless act of violence. He was only 26 years old. I don’t know about all of you, but I have children that age. So to me, this is particularly difficult.”
Solorio is survived by his parents, brothers, sisters and fiancée.
Delcid’s arrest has again led to criticisms by opponents of Gascón who contend that his policies allowed the defendant to avoid extended jail time earlier this year.
Critics said Delcid should have still been behind bars from a criminal case filed in February, in which he was charged with burglary, domestic violence, assault, false imprisonment and witness intimidation.
According to court records, Delcid pleaded no contest to the burglary and domestic violence counts and was sentenced March 10 to four years probation and 180 days in jail. Jail records indicate he was released from custody the next day, with credit for time already served.
Critics said if Gascón had allowed prosecutors to file a sentencing enhancement for the use of a knife in the case, Delcid may not have gotten such a lenient sentence and might still have been behind bars.