Crime & Justice

3 arrested in murder of Downey police officer

Downey Police Officer Ricky Galvez, a five-year veteran of the force, was shot and killed Wednesday night in the police station parking lot.
Downey Police Officer Ricky Galvez, a five-year veteran of the force, was shot and killed Wednesday night in the police station parking lot.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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Updated 12:04 p.m. Three suspects arrested, murder was "botched robbery"

Investigators say Downey Police Officer Ricardo Galvez was killed in a "botched robbery" Wednesday night. Three people--one juvenile and two adults--are in custody and police say they're not looking for any additional suspects.

"They admitted they were trying to rob him," said Lt. John Corina of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. Corina said the three didn't appear to know that they had targeted a police officer or were in a parking lot adjacent to police headquarters. 

Galvez may not have seen the apparent robbers coming towards his car, Corina said. He had returned to the station following a nearby training session and had been sitting in his car for a few minutes before the suspects approached and shot him.

An officer leaving the station heard gun shots and took off after the suspects' fleeing car.

Corina praised the "quick action, quick thinking" of that officer, which he said, resulted in the suspects' arrest.

Investigators said they've also recovered a firearm they believe was used in the shooting.

Previously: One suspect is in custody with police searching for more in Wednesday night's fatal shooting of a Downey police officer.

In what authorities are calling a "brazen" attack, Officer Ricardo Galvez, 29, was shot in his own vehicle — not a patrol car — at about 11 p.m. According to investigators with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, Galvez was sitting in his car when another car pulled into the lot, and "unknown suspects" got out, shot the officer, and then fled in their car. 

Officials say the officer was deliberately targeted--though why is unclear.

Investigators with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department are looking at all possible motives, including that the shooter targeted Galvez because he was a police officer, said Commander Rod Kusch of the sheriff's department.

“When an incident like this happens, we have to keep an open mind as to motive,” he said. 
 
At the same time, there are indications Galvez was targeted for reasons not related to his work as a Downey police officer, said Kusch. Galvez was not in uniform and sitting inside his own car parked at a lot adjacent the station – not the secured police parking area - when he was shot.
 
“Those things have a tendency to take away from the idea that they were randomly targeting a police officer,” said Kusch. 

Another Downey officer heard the shot and pursued the car to Montebello. Several people were detained and investigators are looking for several more, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said at an early morning news conference. No weapons were recovered.

Galvez was found in his car by another Downey officer.

Galvez was at the end of his shift, according to Corina. 

Downey Police Chief Carl Charles said Galvez had been on the force for five years and was normally assigned to field patrol.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Commerce) said in a statement she was "shocked and saddened" by the news.

“I hope that those who committed this chilling crime will quickly be brought to justice. My deepest sympathies and prayers are with Officer Galvez's family, friends, and co-workers in this difficult time," Roybal-Allard said.

“Every day, the brave men and women of our Downey Police Department put themselves at personal risk to keep us all safe," said Downey Mayor Luis H. Marquez. "We are incredibly sorrowed at the loss of Officer Galvez and our thoughts and prayers are with all who knew and loved him.” 

Laying flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the Downey Police Department, Eric Blanco, 50, said he's lived in Downey for 25 years and the city's police give him piece of mind that his family's safe when he's out of town on frequent business trips.

"Sometimes the police officers are unsung heroes," he said. "These are the guys we call every time we have an emergency."

Hearing of Galvez's death saddened him, he said.

"Such a young life didn't fill his commitment to life," Blanco said.

Galvez was not married and had no children. He is survived by his mother, brother and sisters.

According to Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Hallock, Galvez graduated from the sheriff's department's academy in 2010, which he attended as a Downey Police recruit.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Officer Ricardo Galvez's last name in one reference. The story was also incorrect in several references to when Galvez was killed. KPCC regrets the errors.

This story has been updated.