Two police officers killed in motel shootout were ‘El Monte homegrown’

A man in a police uniform and another in a suit
El Monte Police Cpl. Michael Paredes, left, and Officer Joseph Santana were fatally shot Tuesday as they confronted a suspect at a motel.
(City of El Monte)

The day after a deadly shootout at a motel left El Monte reeling, the police officers killed were identified Wednesday as two men united by the shared drive to serve the city that raised them.

Cpl. Michael Paredes, 42, and Officer Joseph Santana, 31, were killed Tuesday while responding to a reported stabbing at an El Monte motel. Both leave behind families in mourning.

“They grew up here; to us, they’re El Monte homegrown,” Mayor Jessica Ancona said. “They’re our boys.”


Paredes was a nearly 22-year veteran of the El Monte Police Department, starting as a cadet before being sworn in as a full-time officer in July 2000. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

On Facebook, his sister had changed her profile picture to his badge — No. 565 — and several people had commented with prayer-hand emojis. Many wrote that he was a hero.

Justin Flores, who allegedly fired at the officers, was on probation for a gun charge at the time of the shooting, court records show.

June 16, 2022

“At this time my family and I would just like to grieve our loss and not speak publicly,” a Paredes family member told The Times, declining to comment further.

Ancona described him as a veteran officer “who went through our El Monte schools” and who was “excited to be on the force.”

Santana worked for his hometown of El Monte as a public works employee for six years before starting his law enforcement career as a deputy with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

“This tragic loss hits close to home for us,” the Sheriff’s Department said on its Facebook page. “Officer Santana began his law enforcement career with our department in March 2018, and was a graduate of Academy Class 211.”

He served at the West Valley Detention Center until last October.

“He was a great partner and loved by all who knew him,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote.

After three years with San Bernardino County, Santana returned to El Monte to join the Police Department in December, city officials said.


He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two twin boys.

On Wednesday, several people commented on a photo Santana posted to Facebook a year ago of him holding a toddler.

“God rest his soul, thank you for your service sir,” one read.

“Prayers to his wife, children, friends and family, and brothers/sisters in blue,” said another.

Pejhmaun Iraj Khosroabadi, 33, was apprehended hours after the shooting of a California Highway Patrol officer, who remains in critical condition.

June 15, 2022

Paredes and Santana “paid the ultimate sacrifice, while in performance of a noble profession, serving the community they loved,” the city of El Monte said in a release.

El Monte City Councilwoman Maria Morales said on social media that she was “heartbroken.”

“They went to work today to protect the people of our city and to answer the call for help,” she wrote early Wednesday in a Facebook post. “Sadly, their selfless acts of service led them to a place of evil and they were taken from us in a senseless act of cowardice.”

“As a city official and, more importantly, as a mother, I can only imagine the pain and suffering their families are now enduring,” she wrote.

The Police Department and the El Monte Police Officers Assn. set up an official donation page to support the families of Paredes and Santana.