Family demands answers after sheriff’s deputy kills armed security guard in Gardena
Questions mounted Friday about the fatal shooting by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy of an armed security guard near the auto body shop where he worked in Gardena.
The deputy fired on Andres Guardado about 6 p.m. Thursday in the 400 block of West Redondo Beach Boulevard after Guardado produced a gun and ran, Lt. Charles Calderaro said. At some point, two pursuing deputies confronted Guardado and one opened fire, he said.
But family members and some community activists said Friday that the shooting was unjustified and are demanding answers.
Calderaro said Guardado, 18, was not a licensed security guard, nor was he wearing a uniform or any marked clothing. He said the handgun found at the scene was not registered.
Investigators identified some surrounding buildings with cameras and are trying to determine whether the incident was captured on video, Calderaro said. They are writing search warrants to get footage from the scene.
Two deputies were involved in the incident, one of whom opened fire, Calderaro said. He didn’t know how many times Guardado was shot or where. No other details were available about what prompted the confrontation.
Georgena Laird, 37, said she was across the street outside her motor home when the shooting occurred. She heard the deputies’ car pull up across the street when she turned and saw two sheriff’s deputies “come running up into the driveway — at that point I didn’t see [Guardado] anymore at the gate.”
“I turned around and came rushing over” and saw two deputies in the driveway “pointing their weapons like this in an angle” at Guardado, Laird said, making a V shape with her hands.
She didn’t see the deputy fire his gun but heard a rapid succession of shots.
“When I heard the shots and I came over to see who got hit, he was already down on the ground,” she said. “This kid was such a sweetheart.”
She said that her husband had recently been hospitalized for cellulitis and that Guardado would “come over to my RV to check in on me and see if I was OK. He’d say, ‘It’s not much but here’s my last dollar.’”
Laird said he would sometimes drop off juice or soda and would ask if there was anything else he could do for her.
“He would just come over and talk to me and tell me that things were going to be all right,” she said. “This was senseless and not right. I’m tired of seeing this go on.”
On Friday, Jennifer Guardado fought back tears during an afternoon news conference outside the auto shop near where her brother was shot to death. In one hand, Guardado, 22, held a white rose and a black baseball cap. In the other was a sign with an image of her brother.
“Even if this is the last day I breathe, I’m not holding this back, because I feel it in my soul that my brother was murdered,” she said. “This is not right. I need justice. He was a good man…. He was going to make it and become a good professional man in life, but they took that away from my family. My parents are completely destroyed…. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him. He was my joy.”
Najee Ali, activist and director of Project Islamic Hope, addressed the crowd to say, “Latino lives matter also,” and called the shooting “an execution.”
Cliff Smith of the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police told reporters that “there’s an epidemic in Los Angeles County and across this country of racist police attacks on primarily brown and Black and working-class people.”
He demanded the “immediate arrest” of the deputy who shot Andres Guardado and that the video surveillance be released.
Earlier Friday, a makeshift memorial was set up near the spot where Guardado was killed.
Guardado’s uncle Noe Abarca, 47, knelt on the sidewalk to light Virgen de Guadalupe candles lined up in front of bouquets of flowers and a plush SpongeBob still in its plastic bag. Above were signs that said: “Andres Guardado, 18 yr old, murdered by police,” “Justice for Andres,” and “RIP Andres. My back was turned when they shot me.”
“We want justice. It’s the first thing we want,” Abarca said in Spanish. “We want to know why they killed him…. We need the community’s support.”
Abarca, who works nearby, said that when he arrived at the scene Friday morning, sheriff’s deputies had already taken security cameras from the area. Neither he nor the shop owner had seen any of the footage.
He said Guardado was a good and friendly young man who was working two jobs as a security guard and attending Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to become a mechanic or electrician. He was also considering joining the Army and had only recently started working at Street Dynamic Autobody.
“He had no history of trouble,” Abarca said. “He’s never been in detention” and had recently bought a brand-new car.
“We were proud of him,” Abarca said, adding that Guardado enjoyed working out in his free time and “liked to show off his muscles.”
He lived in Koreatown with his two siblings and parents. “His father and mom are destroyed,” Abarca said. “There are no words to tell them right now.”
The owner of a neighboring auto body shop said he was shocked by the killing. He said Guardado worked as security guard for his shop and was a good employee with a clean record.
“We had security out front because we had certain issues with people tagging and stuff like that, and then the police come up and they pull their guns on him, and he ran because he was scared and they shot and killed him,” Andrew Heney told KCAL-TV Channel 9.
When Stanley Leiva, 18, heard on social media that his friend had been shot to death, he made sure to pay his respects at the memorial outside the Gardena body shop.
He said he first met Guardado in middle school and remembers skating with him.
“He was an ambitious, humble kid who looked out for everybody,” said Leiva, who last spoke to Guardado more than a year ago. But he followed Guardado on social media, where his friend would post about his family, his car and girls. “Typical teenage things.”
“Growing up with people, you expect for them to live forever,” Leiva said. “It’s something you don’t want to process, but it happened.”
He hopes people take an important lesson from this tragedy: “Just look out for your family, man, because you never know when is the last time you’re going to see them.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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