Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca Tuesday dedicated a section of the Hollywood Freeway in honor of Deputy Juan Abel Escalante. Three years ago, a group of gang members confronted Escalante outside his Cypress Park home as he prepared to head to work at the downtown jail. Police say that when Escalante identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy and pulled his gun, they shot and killed him. He was 27.
“We must honor those who give their lives in this profession called public safety," Baca said. He called Escalante, who’d worked at the department for about three years, a "hero."
Escalante's wife, three children, mother and father attended the ceremony outside Men's Central Jail in downtown L.A. where Escalante worked. The section of the 101 Freeway dedicated to him is nearby.
“He loved his kids. His kids were his number one," Celeste Escalante, his wife, said. "I fight every day for them and they go to school every day and they do good. I’m raising them to how he wanted them to be raised.”
Celeste Escalante heard the gunshots that killed her husband, and cradled him as he lay mortally wounded outside their home. She is stoic about it all.
“I’m OK. I have to be OK for my kids.”
They include Alexander, 13, Marissa, 11, and Julian, 6.
Police say three suspects await trial in the deputy’s murder, and one remains at large.