A man arrested in connection with the shooting of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy in Alhambra is also suspected in the killing of a 30-year-old man about an hour earlier in a drive-by shooting in downtown Los Angeles, police said Tuesday.
The victim in the downtown shooting died at the scene of the crime, which occurred about 4:50 p.m. Monday in the 1900 block of East Seventh Place, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
Authorities withheld his name, pending notification of his relatives.
According to LAPD Chief Michel Moore, the suspect arrested for allegedly shooting and gravely wounding Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano, 50, about 5:45 p.m. Monday in a Jack in the Box restaurant at 2531 W. Valley Blvd., is suspected in the downtown killing.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva identified the suspect as 30-year-old Rhett Nelson of St. George, Utah, who came to the Los Angeles area earlier this month. Moore said Nelson and his vehicle, a white Kia Sorento, were linked to the drive-by shooting through witness descriptions.
Nelson is suspected of shooting Solano in the head in what was possibly a random attack, officials said. He was detained about 10:40 a.m. in the Long Beach area and arrested about 1 p.m., according to the sheriff’s department.
Moore said the victim in the downtown L.A. shooting had an exchange with someone in a vehicle, leading to gunfire that left the man dead.
No possible motive for either shooting has been disclosed.
Nelson walked into a Long Beach church around 10 a.m. and called his father in Utah and told him he had killed two men. He was located and detained after his father notified Long Beach police about his son’s call, officials said.
Solano was on life support in grave condition at County-USC Medical Center, Villanueva said.
In a May 30 Facebook post, Nelson’s father, Bradley, asked for help finding his son, who had a history of substance abuse.
“Our 30-year-old son Rhett Nelson disappeared 3 days ago, taking nothing with him but his phone, leaving all his clothing and his computer behind,” Bradley Nelson wrote. “We’ve had no contact with him, his phone is dead or off since then. He has a history of opiate abuse and has been clean for about 6 months, but we know what a terrible struggle that is. We are praying for his safe return.”
Bradley Nelson’s post noted that his son was last seen driving a white Kia Sorento in southern Utah.
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