Authorities investigating the June 18 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Andres Guardado outside a Gardena-area business said Wednesday that a handgun recovered at the scene had the fatally wounded man’s DNA on the trigger, the trigger guard, and the magazine of the loaded weapon.
Also, both deputies involved in the confrontation with Guardado at the auto repair business at 420 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. had gone there to investigate a non-fatal shooting on June 7, although that shooting has not been linked to Guardado, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Chris Marks said Wednesday at the downtown Los Angeles Hall of Justice
Marks, in discussing the criminal investigation into the Guardado shooting, said the victim was not wearing a security guard uniform or clothing on the day he was shot, and had no California security license.
“He was not yet 21 years old; therefore, he was unable to be legally employed as an armed security guard,” Marks said. “No person interviewed to date has admitted to hiring Mr. Guardado as a security guard at the location.”
Relatives had said that Guardado was working as an informal security guard for an auto body shop in the area, and was doing so when he was approached by the deputies.
Marks said no mounted security cameras seized by investigators at the location had any memory cards or onboard video footage, and a DVR that was also seized from the location on June 18 had no video of the shooting on it.
Marks said that following the June 7 shooting, detectives had seized the memory from the DVR, which had been connected to the security cameras, and it showed video of that crime, Marks said.
“So that DVR that recorded everything, as of June 7th stopped recording, because we took the memory away from it,” Marks said. “So there is no recording of the deputy-involved shooting that happened a week and a half later.”
The June 7 shooting occurred as people were lined up outside the business apparently intending to buy nitrous oxide gas, Marks said. Marks said several arrests have been made in connection with the earlier shooting, and detectives have seized firearms, narcotics and currency.
He stressed that there was no known connection between that crime and Guardado.
Marks also said there was “a pattern of criminal activity” connected with the business, going back several years.
Following the Guardado shooting, detectives served a warrant at the alarm company for the business, but there was no video of the Guardado shooting on their servers, Marks said.
Both deputies involved in the June 18 shooting have been interviewed by homicide investigators and answered all questions, but no information is being released at this time about their statements, Marks said.
The criminal investigation into the Guardado shooting is ongoing, and the results will not be made public until it is submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review, Marks said. An administrative investigation by the sheriff’s department will not be initiated until the criminal investigation is complete.
Officials displayed security video from across the street from the business that showed a white Lexus pulling up near Guardado on June 18. When deputies pulled up in their patrol vehicle he ran off and out of view down the alley, followed by the two deputies, Marks said.
Marks said investigators are looking for the occupants of the Lexus, and he urged anyone with information on the case to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Marks said search warrants have been served “to obtain information from phones and social media accounts related to the incident,” but authorities are awaiting the results of many of the warrants.
Authorities previously disclosed that Deputy Miguel Vega fired all six shots that day, fatally wounding Guardado.
On July 18, the FBI announced that it would review the killing, and Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said the FBI’s Civil Rights Division met with sheriff’s homicide investigators to begin reviewing the department’s investigation.
On July 10, against Villanueva’s wishes, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office released an autopsy report confirming that Guardado was shot five times in the back, and ruling the death a homicide.
Marks blasted Coroner Jonathan Lucas for released the results against the department’s wishes, saying that it potentially compromised the investigation. He said the department did not want the interview subjects — including the deputies involved, the business owner, the business manager, and the occupants of the white car — to know vital information about the number of rounds fired, wound paths, and bullet trajectory.
The official autopsy report confirmed details included in an independent medical examination commissioned by the young man’s family.
Guardado was shot by Deputy Miguel Vega, whose partner, Deputy Chris Hernandez, was also at the scene but did not open fire.
Sheriff’s officials have said the patrol deputies were at the scene in a marked vehicle and saw Guardado speaking to someone in a car blocking the entrance to a body shop. Investigators allege Guardado pulled out a handgun, then began running. Deputies chased him and caught up with him in an alley, where the shooting occurred.
Sheriff’s officials said a weapon was discovered at the scene — an unregistered .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol with a polymer frame and no serial number, a Smith & Wesson slide and a prohibited Glock magazine. Officials have said there is no evidence Guardado fired any shots.
Vega’s attorney, Adam Marangell, has said Guardado reached for his gun while face-down on the ground and that the shooting was justified.
“During this interview he made clear that he did everything possible that night to avoid firing his weapon, including repeated commands to `not reach for the gun,”’ Marangell said. “Deputy Vega went to work that day to protect the citizens of the community and, unfortunately, was forced to take action which resulted in a loss of life.”
The shooting has generated large protests, demands for the firing and prosecution of Vega and widespread calls for an outside inquiry into the death.
Marks, who oversees the sheriff’s Detective Division Headquarters, said earlier that investigators determined the deputy fired a total of six shots.
Tom Yu, an attorney for the second deputy, told the newspaper his client saw Guardado pull out a weapon while running and eventually saw him start to get on the ground under orders from Vega. When the shots rang out, Hernandez had only a partial view of Guardado, Yu said.
The attorney for Guardado’s family released the following statement a few hours after the department’s briefing:
“The Sheriff Department’s press conference today did nothing to explain to the family, or the public, as to why Andres Guardado was shot in the back five times by Deputy Miguel Vega. The department’s attempt to convolute and cherry pick the facts to create a narrative that links Andres’ death to previous incidents of crime near the shop is nothing more than an attempt to justify the killing of this young man.
“The Guardado family has waited for nearly two months for answers regarding the LASD investigation into Andres’ death and have been repeatedly told nothing will be released so as not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation. We find it convenient that LASD — the largest sheriff’s department in the world — instead released a poorly edited video as evidence to justify a shooting that clearly only reveals a scared 18-year-old literally running for his life.”
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