Sheriff doesn’t explain what prompted deputy-involved shooting of Gardena man
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials on Saturday gave some updates about an officer-involved fatal shooting of an 18-year-old Gardena man but provided no details about what prompted the incident.
Officials said the man, Andres Guardado, was armed with an illegal handgun and was not wearing a uniform identifying him as a security guard. But their failure to explain what actually led to the shooting has infuriated protesters, who on Sunday said they are concerned the shooting was unjustified and demanded more answers from authorities. They carried signs that read “Justice for Andres.”
Among the crowd was Edis Abarca, Guardado’s aunt. She had an El Salvador flag wrapped around herself, reflecting the country her family fled because of the war.
When asked how her family felt, she said, “broken.”
“What happened to Andres was not only a tragedy, it was an outright crime,” said Ron Gochez, a member of Union del Barrio, which organized this demonstration. “This is just one more of so many people who have been killed by the L.A. County sheriff’s and the police ... this is the unity between the Black and brown community saying we are tired of this.”
Shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, the crowd of around 100 began marching down West Redondo Beach Boulevard, taking up both sides of the street as they headed to the Sheriff’s Station in Compton over three miles away. As they marched, people in cars threw up their fists in solidarity and honked their horns.
Protesters wore masks and held signs that read “Where’s the footage???” and “He ran because he was scared.”
Toward the front, Aztec dancers beat drums. Families watched from their front yards, phones raised to capture the crowd marching.
It marked one of several protests over the killing in recent days.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters that investigators were still gathering evidence, though he did not say why a deputy shot Guardado, 18, who family members said worked as a security guard. He also urged the public not to buy into conspiracy theories spreading on social media.
The sheriff promised a thorough investigation and urged the public to “wait until all the facts are known” before making judgments.
“It’s sometimes going to be maddeningly slow because today in the 24-hour news cycle, everybody wants information immediately,” Villanueva said. “But you have to remind yourself this happened not even 48 hours ago. So the process has just begun.”
Guardado was shot at about 6 p.m. Thursday following a confrontation with deputies at 420 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., said Capt. Kent Wegener of the homicide bureau. He had been chatting with someone in a car that was blocking the location when deputies from the Compton sheriff’s station pulled up, Wegener said.
He fled, holding a gun, with two deputies chasing him on foot, Wegener said. One of the deputies confronted him and opened fire, striking him in the upper torso, he said. Authorities said they do not know whether Guardado had pointed his weapon at the deputy.
Guardado was shot six times, Wegener said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His family said Guardado had worked as a security guard for Street Dynamic Autobody, near the location where he was shot.
Wegener said Guardado was under the 21-year age requirement to be a security guard in California. He said the victim was not wearing a gunbelt, a uniform or any marked clothing, and that the .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol he was carrying was not licensed.
The weapon with a polymer frame did not have a serial number, Wegener said, but it had an extended magazine with 15-round capacity, “larger than allowed” with 13 live rounds loaded. Authorities did not say whether Guardado fired any shots.
Homicide detectives do not have any video of the shooting, Wegener said, and they are still working to get footage from the scene from a third-party vendor operating a web-based system. An autopsy is expected to be completed within a few days.
Meanwhile, family members and public officials said they believe the shooting was unjustified, pressuring the Sheriff’s Department for answers. Congresswomen Nanette Barragán and Maxine Waters and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Saturday called for independent investigations, including one conducted by state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra.
“Another day, and another Black or brown kid has been shot in the back by police,” Barragán and Waters said in a joint statement. “These killings must stop... We demand answers and call for an independent investigation into this tragic death. There must be full transparency so the public can trust the investigation and we know we are getting the truth.”
Barragán and Waters criticized deputies for not wearing body cameras — equipment that, according to Villanueva, he has been asking since December of 2018 — his first month on the job. He blamed the delay on a lack of support from the county Board of Supervisors.
At the news conference, sheriff’s Cmdr. Chris Marks said officials are close to awarding a contract for body cameras, which will be supplied to 5,200 uniformed deputies working patrol jobs.
On Friday, Jennifer Guardado fought back tears near the auto body shop where her brother was killed. 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.
“This is not right,” she said. “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.”
Guardado’s uncle Noe Abarca, 47, who was also at the scene on Friday, said Guardado was a good 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,” he said.
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.
Times staff writer Dorany Pineda contributed to this report.
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