Two men and a teenage boy accused in the shooting death of an off-duty Downey Police officer during an apparent botched robbery have also been charged with robbing a man less than an hour earlier in Paramount, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Abel Diaz, 17, and co-defendants Steven Knott, 18, and Jeremy Anthony Alvarez, 21, are facing a murder charge that includes the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of an attempted robbery in the Nov. 18 death of Officer Ricardo Galvez.
The 29-year-old former Marine was fatally shot while sitting in his BMW 335, clad in street clothes, in a public civic center parking lot adjacent to the Downey police station in the 11000 block of Brookshire Avenue.
The three were charged last November with Galvez’s murder as well as attempted robbery, with prosecutors filing new charges against them last month in connection with a series of other crimes.
The latest criminal complaint charges Diaz, Knott and Alvarez with second-degree robbery involving the street robbery of a man in Paramount less than an hour before Galvez was killed.
Knott and Alvarez are also charged with one count each of second-degree robbery involving an armed takeover robbery at a cell phone store in Bellflower about six hours before Galvez was shot, and the two are charged along with Alvarez’s 18-year-old girlfriend, Rebecca Ann Ustrell, with attempted murder in the shooting of a man during a verbal dispute at a Montebello convenience store a month earlier, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Knott is also charged with one count of shooting at an inhabited dwelling in South Gate last Sept. 17 after allegedly getting into an argument with an occupant.
Diaz, Knott, Alvarez and Ustrell are due back a Norwalk courtroom Sept. 28, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial.
Diaz, Knott and Alvarez are being held without bail, while Ustrell is jailed in lieu of $1 million bail. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment against Knott and Alvarez, but Diaz cannot face the death penalty because of his age. The teen, who turned 17 a week after being charged with the officer’s killing, could face up to life in state prison if convicted.
Alvarez, the alleged getaway driver, was taken into custody following a police pursuit that ended in the 1000 block of Carob Way in Montebello soon after Galvez’s shooting. He was caught by officers as he tried to run through the backyards of some homes.
The other two suspects were seen fleeing into a nearby home and taken into custody by members of a sheriff’s special weapons team after warrants were obtained.
Investigators believe the suspects were out to rob someone and were unaware that Galvez was a police officer or that they were in a rear parking lot of the police station, sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said.
A handgun allegedly discarded by one of the suspects was recovered. Investigators believe it was used to kill Galvez, according to the sheriff’s department.
Downey police said Galvez was on duty and returning to the police station from a training program involving K-9s.
A Downey police officer in his patrol vehicle heard the shooting and chased the suspect vehicle into Montebello, where the suspects bailed out, Corina said. At the same time, another Downey officer came outside and found the fatally wounded officer.
Downey Police Chief Carl Charles described the officer, who was known to his friends and colleagues as Ricky, as “a tremendous young man who loved serving the residents of Downey.” He was in the Marine Corps prior to becoming a police officer, serving two tours of duty, one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan.
—City News Service