A man suspected of killing a Pomona police officer and wounding another is in custody Sunday after a standoff that lasted more than 15 hours at an apartment building in Pomona.
Isaias De Jesus Valencia, 38, of Pomona, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder of a police officer and attempted murder of a police officer, Deputy Armando Viera Jr. of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said. He was being held on $1 million bail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s records.
LASD crisis negotiators tried repeatedly to persuade Valencia to surrender during the standoff, which began Friday night, but he refused, Viera said. Special Enforcement Bureau deputies then deployed tear gas and he still refused to surrender.
“SEB entered the location where the suspect was barricaded and deployed an LASD K-9,” he said Saturday. “Ultimately, the suspect was taken into custody.”
The officer killed in the shooting was identified as Gregory Casillas, 30, of Upland. Officials said he had been with the department since 2014, though he was only sworn in as a Pomona police officer in September 2017, and was just about to finish field training.
He leaves behind a wife and two young children. Casillas is also survived by his mother, father and two brothers.
“Greg is a hero. A man to look up to,” said Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri said. “He left his family at home to protect yours, and his ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our Pomona police officers were out doing what they always do, putting themselves in harm’s way to protect Pomona, a community that we love.”
The wounded officer underwent surgery and was in stable condition, expected to survive. Officials didn’t identify that officer, but Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he was shot in the face when he attempted to aid Casillas.
The shooting was reported at 9:10 p.m. Friday in the 1400 block of South Palomares Street, said Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is assisted Pomona police in the investigation.
The confrontation began when Pomona police officers attempted to stop Valencia for alleged reckless driving. A pursuit ensued, which ended when the suspect’s vehicle crashed into a parked car and he fled on foot, according to Capt. Chris Bergner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“The suspect ran into an apartment complex where officers gave chase,” Bergner said. “As he barricaded himself in a bedroom, officers attempted to contact him and he began firing through the door, striking two officers.”
“It is with a heavy heart that I must report that one officer did not survive,” Olivieri announced early Saturday morning on Twitter.
At 1:10 p.m., Olivieri tweeted: “I am at the Command Post, as soon as this barricade situation comes to an end, I will talk briefly to the media about our fallen officer. I am not going to talk about my officer while the suspect may be watching TV.”
Less than a hour later, just after 2 p.m., McDonnell announced the arrest.
Valencia’s friends said he is a father of three who used to be involved in his community but had been battling depression and substance abuse in recent years.
During the standoff, the apartment building had been evacuated as a SWAT team maintained a watch all night and all morning long.
Earlier Saturday, police brought Casillas’ body to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office in a solemn procession of squad cars as officers from several Southland police departments lined the streets. Tributes and prayers for Casillas and his family, and the wounded officer, poured in all day on social media, including one from Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
“Another hero gone too soon,” Beck tweeted. “These tragedies are occurring too often, and the pains of sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the @PomonaPD today.”
The Pomona Purpose Church held a prayer vigil for Casillas at 6 p.m. Saturday at Pomona police headquarters.
–City News Service
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