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Deputy Shot While Off-Duty in Alhambra ‘Continues to Fight for Life’ as Detectives Seek Possible Additional Victims of Suspect

Update: Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano died after being taken off life support, officials said Wednesday evening. Read KTLA's updated coverage here.

A deputy remains in grave condition two days after being  shot in the head while off-duty inside a fast-food restaurant in Alhambra, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday morning.

Rhett Mckenzie Nelson appears in a booking photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on June 12, 2019.

Rhett Mckenzie Nelson appears in a booking photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on June 12, 2019.

Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano, a 13-year veteran with the department, was standing by the counter inside the Jack in the Box on West Valley Boulevard near Fremont Avenue on Monday evening when a gunman shot him once in the head from behind, authorities said.

Solano was transported to the hospital, where he was placed on life support, the Sheriff's Department said Tuesday.

"Please continue to pray for our brother @lasdhq Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano, who continues to fight for his life in the ICU," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in social media posts on Wednesday. "Thank you to everyone who have been sending prayers and words of support."

A 30-year-old Utah man, Rhett Mckenzie Nelson, was arrested in Long Beach Tuesday on suspicion of attempted murder, according to the Sheriff's Department. He's suspected to be involved in another shooting in downtown Los Angeles an hour before the Alhambra incident, Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore said.

The earlier attack happened on Seventh Place near Seventh and Mateo streets and left a 30-year-old dead, authorities said. That victim has not been identified.

The Sheriff's Department released Nelson's booking photo Wednesday, saying he "may have been involved in additional criminal incidents since entering California" and that investigators are looking for possible additional victims.

Nelson is being held without bail, county inmate records show.

His family had the St. George Police Department in Utah list the 30-year-old as a missing person on May 28, Capt. Mike Giles told KTLA sister station KSTU.

In a Facebook post on May 30, the suspect's father, Bradley Nelson, said his son has a history of opiate abuse and left without any belongings besides his phone.

The suspect contacted his family on June 4, Giles said.

On Tuesday morning, Rhett Nelson went to a church in Long Beach, called his father and told him that he had killed two people in Southern California, according to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

In a statement obtained by the L.A. Times on Tuesday, the suspect's father said:

“My wife Jean and I, along with our family, are saddened beyond words to hear of the shooting of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Solano, and to learn that our son Rhett is being held in connection with this horrifying and senseless attack... We are cooperating fully with authorities and will provide them with all information they request concerning Rhett and his struggles. We ask that people please pray for Deputy Solano and his family."

 

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