A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander on Wednesday detailed previous incidents at the Gardena-area location where Andres Guardado was fatally shot by a deputy in June in an effort to highlight why authorities were concerned about the site. But he offered few updates to the shooting investigation itself.
Commander Chris Marks noted that the other incidents, which include another shooting, had nothing to do with Guardado and was pressed by reporters about their relevance.
Guardado died on June 18 after being chased by deputies who were on patrol in the 400 block of West Redondo Beach Boulevard.
Investigators said the 18-year-old was standing in a driveway of 420 West Redondo Beach Blvd. talking to people in a white Lexus when deputies first saw him. He looked toward the deputies and was seen at some point with a handgun, Marks said during the news conference, during which the department released video showing the moments leading up to the shooting. There is no footage showing the actual shooting, the commander added.
Investigators are still hoping to identify and interview the two people Guardado was talking to before the shooting.
Guardado began running down the driveway, prompting deputies to exit their patrol car and give chase on foot, Marks said.
One deputy ultimately fired six shots, striking Guardado five times.
Family members said Guardado was working as a security guard protecting a business from taggers and the handgun did not belong to him. But Marks said the teen was not a state-licensed security guard, he wasn’t wearing a uniform and no one interviewed at the location admitted to hiring Guardado as a guard.
On Wednesday, Marks said the loaded gun was found next to Guardado after the shooting. It had his DNA on it, but investigators are waiting on ballistic results to trace the weapon.
A complete investigation of the deputy shooting will be turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Controversy swirls around shooting
The shooting prompted multiple protests, and a union representing Guardado’s father has called on Villanueva to resign over his handling of the case.
An autopsy on Guardado also sparked controversy when it was initially placed on a security hold by the Sheriff’s Department.
The L.A. County coroner decided to eventually release the report, citing the public’s right to know, a move criticized by the Sheriff’s Department. It revealed Guardado had been shot five times in the back.
The deputy who fired the shot that killed Guardado has been identified as Miguel Vega. Deputy Chris Hernandez was trailing behind Vega to support as backup that night, attorneys have said.
Multiple investigations into the shooting have been opened, including one by the FBI.
Other incidents at 420 West Redondo Beach Blvd.
Marks detailed previous incidents at the site where Guardado was killed, highlighting that it has been an area of concern for officers.
Since 2015, there have been 23 calls for service at the same location, including 10 disturbance calls, two burglaries, two batteries and a gang-related homicide, the commander said.
In addition, he highlighted two incidents right before the Guardado shooting in which people were arrested on drug-related charges right outside the location.
“There’s obviously a pattern of criminal activity occurring at this location,” Marks said.
Eleven days before the Guardado shooting, on June 7, a person was shot multiple times in the torso at the same location.
Investigators found several bottles of nitrous oxide, methamphetamine and a shotgun at the location, as well as video showing moments before, during and after the shooting.
Video released Wednesday shows people lined up in the driveway of the location, many of which were holding bottles “presumably” to get filled up with nitrous oxide, Marks said.
Video after the shooting shows people running or walking away from the location while holding the bottles.
Because the DVR connected to the security cameras at that location were seized during the June 7 shooting, there is no video recording of the Guardado shooting, Marks explained.
After an investigation, five people have been arrested and narcotics, weapons and about $100,000 have been seized.
“I don’t have any information that links Guardado to any of these previous incidents,” Marks stressed. “This is background information and it’s also to share with you that we have parallel investigations.”
Guardado family responds
The Guardado family later criticized the news conference saying it “did nothing to explain to the family, or the public, as to why Andres Guardado was shot in the back five times.”
“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 statement continued. “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.”