Investigators do not believe 18-year-old Andres Guardado had fired his gun before he was shot and killed by a deputy near Gardena earlier this week, officials said Saturday.
One of two deputies involved fired six rounds at Andres Guardado, who was struck in the upper torso and pronounced dead Thursday in the 400 block of Redondo Beach Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said at a news conference Saturday.
Officials said Guardado had a handgun with a loaded, illegal large-capacity magazine.
“At this point we don’t believe that gun was fired,” Wegener said. “I know that the gun was in his hand as he fled from the deputies, I don’t know where from… or if he had it in his hand the whole time.”
Two deputies from the Compton sheriff’s station were out on patrol when they saw Guardado talking to someone in a car that was blocking a driveway, so they stopped their vehicle.
“Guardado reportedly looked toward the deputies, reached a handgun and ran southbound down the driveway of the business at the location,” Wegener said. “Deputies gave chase on foot, and ultimately caught up to Guardado at the rear of the business, where a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
It’s still unclear what prompted the use of force. Wegener said the department is still looking into what led up to the shooting and are examining cameras to see if any captured the incident. But so far, homicide detectives have no video of what happened in the alley.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the shooting illustrates the importance of having body-worn cameras for all deputies.
Asked about the Guardado family’s statements that the young man was shot in the back as he was running away, the captain said an autopsy set to be performed within the coming days will confirm exactly where he was shot.
Guardado’s family told KTLA he was working as a security guard, protecting a business from taggers. But the Sheriff’s Department said Guardado wasn’t a state-licensed security guard and wasn’t wearing a uniform or carrying handcuffs.
Andrew Haney, a mechanic and manager at a nearby auto shop, told the Associated Press that Guardado would sometimes come directly from his job elsewhere as a security guard, often still wearing his uniform, to learn from the mechanics and to keep guard to prevent graffiti.
“It wasn’t like formal employment,” he said. “He was just looking out for us and the property.”
He told KTLA the young man was just hanging out by the business the evening deputies arrived.
The location was the scene of another shooting on June 7, when deputies found a person suffering from gunshot wounds, followed a blood trail and found narcotics and a shotgun inside a business, according to Wegener. That investigation is still underway.
Dozens of people gathered Friday at a small memorial for Guardado that slowly grew with flowers, candles, photos and posters at the scene of the shooting. Signs reading “Stop Killer Cops” and “Murdered by Police” could be seen.
His older sister, Jennifer Guardado, spoke in an emotional news conference Friday, demanding answers for her brother’s killing.
“My parents are completely destroyed, we’re all dead already inside,” she said. “My brother’s gone. He’s never gonna come back, but there will be justice in this world.”
A woman who lives in a motor home across the street from the auto shop told the Associated Press she saw deputies run down an alley and heard four or five shots fired.
“I didn’t hear them say ‘stop, freeze,’ no nothing,” Georgena Laird told the AP.
Laird described Guardado as a “sweetheart” and said he would offer her money or bring her juice and soda when her husband was in the hospital.