An ex-LAPD officer arrested in connection with a fatal shooting outside a Pomona nightclub was moved from home to home by his extended family in Mexico while he was on the run, FBI officials said Wednesday.
Henry Solis, 27, grew a beard, stayed indoors and avoided using cellphones or social media during the weeks he remained a fugitive, an FBI special agent said at a news conference.
“He was lying pretty low,” Special Agent Scott Garriola said.
Mexican officials, he said, pressured Solis' aunts, uncles and cousins about his whereabouts, but it wasn't until last weekend that authorities made a breakthrough in the manhunt.
Garriola, part of the fugitive task force working the case, declined to say what specific information he received, but said he “stumbled upon something good.”
The agent relayed the information to his counterparts in El Paso, who contacted police in Mexico. On Tuesday afternoon, Solis was arrested, capping a two-month search.
When asked whether Solis made any mistakes that contributed to his capture, Garriola was blunt. “His big screw-up was running away from the crime scene that night,” he said.
He said it would be up to Mexican authorities whether to charge any of Solis' relatives who helped harbor him.
FBI officials said they were evaluating whether the $25,000 reward that had been offered for Solis' capture helped generate the information that ultimately led authorities to the ex-officer.
In recent days, authorities had begun putting up billboards on the U.S. side of the Mexican border seeking the public's help in tracking down Solis, FBI officials said.
Solis was arrested in Juarez, a border city in Chihuahua state across the Rio Grande from El Paso. Chihuahua authorities said Solis resisted arrest, but officers did not have to fire their weapons when taking him into custody. Solis told authorities that he knew his capture was coming “sooner or later,” Chihuahua officials said at a news conference Tuesday.
Solis was deported to the U.S. on Tuesday evening. He made an initial court appearance in El Paso on Wednesday morning, but FBI officials said it was unclear when his extradition hearing would be held.
Authorities allege Solis, a former Marine who had spent nine months with the LAPD, fatally shot Salome Rodriguez Jr. on March 13 after a fight at a downtown Pomona bar. Solis, who was off duty at the time, allegedly chased the 23-year-old truck driver outside and then shot him multiple times.
The rookie officer didn't show up for work the next day, LAPD officials said. That night, Pomona police publicly identified him as a person of interest in the killing, circulating a flier with his photo and information about his missing car.
Authorities allege that Solis ditched the Volkswagen Jetta not far from the scene of the shooting and called his father for help. Victor Solis drove with his son 800 miles to El Paso, where he told investigators he dropped the younger Solis off at a bus stop, according to court records.
But surveillance footage showed Victor Solis walking with his son across the border into Mexico, authorities said. The father was later arrested and charged with lying to federal investigators in an attempt to help hide his son.