DOWNEY – Three male suspects are now in custody and will face murder charges in the shooting death of a Downey police officer whose body was discovered in the parking lot adjacent to the department headquarters late Wednesday night.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, who originally dubbed the shooting a “targeted” attack, now believe the murder was the result of a botched robbery attempt.
Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez, a five-year veteran of the Downey Police Department, had just completed his shift when the suspects -- one juvenile and two adults -- walked up and opened fire on him as he sat in the driver’s seat of his own car.
Hearing the gunfire, a nearby Downey police officer on patrol pursued the suspects’ Nissan Altima into Montebello where the three males fled on foot.
Police captured one suspect shortly after the shooting, but an all-night chase ensued to find the other two, prompting evacuations of nearby apartments and townhomes on Carob Way and Washington Boulevard.
L.A. County sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said he’s unsure if the suspects have any gang affiliation, but police were able to recover a handgun, which they believe is the murder weapon.
The suspects are ages 16, 18 and 21.
“Galvez was wearing plain clothes and they were looking for someone to rob,” Corina said. “I don’t think they realized they were behind a police station.”
During a press conference Thursday morning, Downey Police Chief Carl Charles praised Galvez for his commitment to the department and the honorable way he served his country.
“He was a tremendous young man who loved serving the residents of Downey,” said Charles. “It is with great sadness that I report we’ve lost one of our finest.”
Charles said Galvez was a former Marine, who served two tours during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The 29-years-old Whittier resident was unmarried with no children. Although he was hired as a field patrol officer, officials say he was training to become a K-9 officer when he was ambushed.
“His smile was infectious, and his professionalism was always on display,” said Charles. “Words cannot express the love and respect we have for Ricky. Our department is hurting.”
The death of Galvez prompted a day of mourning in Downey as the city civic center cancelled all activities and the Downey Police Department personally escorted Galvez’s body to the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner in Los Angeles, shutting down major thoroughfares.
Downey’s elected officials also expressed their sympathy after waking up to the shocking news.
“Every day, the brave men and women of our Downey Police Department put themselves at personal risk to keep us all safe,” said Downey Mayor Luis Marquez. “We are incredibly sorrowed at the loss of Officer Galvez and our thoughts and prayers are with all who knew and loved him.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard (D-40) also released a statement offering condolences to Galvez’s family.
“I am shocked and saddened by the news that Downey Police Officer Ricardo Galvez was shot and killed last night,” she said. “My deepest sympathies and prayers are with Officer Galvez’s family, friends, and co-workers in this difficult time.”
“Today is a sad day for Downey and a sad day in my district,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-58) in a statement. “Late last night, in a cowardly, unprovoked attack, we lost Downey police officer Ricky Galvez.
“As a Marine veteran and a dedicated police officer, Ricky Galvez served our community as a selfless public servant and his tragic loss is felt today not only by the city of Downey, but by all Californians.”
The last time a Downey police officer was killed in the line of duty was nearly 35 years ago.
Officer Wayne Richard Presley, a nine-year police veteran, was struck and killed by a drunken driver on April 10, 1981. The 37-year-old officer and his partner had responded to the scene of a disabled truck and were getting back on their motorcycles when the speeding driver hit them. Presley, a U.S. Navy veteran, was thrown into the truck and he died.
Galvez’s name will now join Presley’s on the Downey Police Department’s bronze memorial outside its headquarters as a remembrance of his service and sacrifice to the city.
Downey Federal Credit Union has established a memorial fund in Galvez’s name. Contributions can be deposited at the branch into account No. 113988.