Two El Monte police officers shot and killed Tuesday night while responding to a report of a stabbing at a motel were identified by city and county coroner’s officials Wednesday as Cpl. Michael Domingo Paredes and Officer Joseph Anthony Santana.
Both men “were raised in the city of El Monte and had a strong connection to the community they served,” city officials said in a statement posted to Instagram with photos of the two men.
They both lived in Upland, coroner’s officials said Wednesday afternoon.
Paredes, 42, had served as a full-time officer with the department since July 2000, working several specialized assignments before achieving the rank of corporal, officials said. He started his law enforcement career as a cadet with El Monte police.
Paredes leaves behind his wife, a daughter and a son.
Santana, 31, initially joined the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in September 2018 and worked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Sgt. M. Higgins, a SBCSD spokeswoman said. He was hired by the El Monte Police Department in 2021. He also previously worked with the city as a part-time public works employee prior to his law enforcement career.
Santana leaves behind his wife, a 9-year-old daughter and 2-year-old twin boys.
“He was such a loving father,” the younger officer’s mother, Olga Santana, said through tears Wednesday. “He would be tired on his days off, but he was always taking them to Disneyland or Speedzone, or just playing baseball with them in the yard.”
Santana’s mother described him as a reserved person who shared his relentless, cutting sense of dry humor with those he was close with. He liked to play basketball, was generous with his time when off-duty and always eager to help a friend in need.
When he was growing up, Joseph Santana looked up to his stepfather, who was also an El Monte police officer, his mother said. That relationship inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“Before, he worked in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department … but then he landed his dream job as an officer serving the community he grew up in,” Santana’s mother said.
On Wednesday, she said she was grieving with relatives in Upland, and was struggling to process the loss. She lamented never again being able to see “his smile, his sarcasm, just seeing him around his kids.” She has been somewhat comforted by the company of loved ones, but only “very little,” she said.
Like Santana, Paredes was also compelled to give back to the city that raised him, his uncle, Tony Paredes, said. He said that, as a child, the El Monte officer was kind, attentive and respected his elders.
He recalled when his nephew approached him about joining the police academy in the late ’90s and asked him to write a letter recommending the then-aspiring officer to the department.
“I made him promise me, ‘Michael, no matter what you do, do good things,’” Tony Paredes, who is a military veteran, said Wednesday. “Twenty-two years on the force, and he was training a new, young officer. Now both their lives have been taken away.”
A steady stream of mourners added to a collection of flowers and messages of thanks at the police station, including dozens of roses left by Arroyo High School’s Cross Country team. Deputies and officers from numerous law enforcement agencies, former coworkers and grateful members of the community were among those who paid their respects.
“Corporal Paredes and Officer Santana paid the ultimate sacrifice, while in performance of a noble profession, serving the community they loved,” officials said.
The officers had responded to the Siesta Inn on Garvey Avenue, but were immediately under gunfire, officials said. They were both taken to LAC + USC Medical Center, where they died.
The suspect was shot and killed by at least one other officer outside the motels/" 1376 target="_blank">motel, officials have said. He died at the scene.
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