Ex-LAPD officer suspected in slaying is arrested in Mexico, officials say
A two-month manhunt for an ex-LAPD officer accused of murder ended Tuesday when the 27-year-old was arrested in Mexico, authorities said.
Chihuahua state authorities said Henry Solis resisted arrest, but no shots were fired when he was apprehended in Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
Solis told authorities he knew his capture was coming “sooner or later,” Mexican officials said at a news conference.
One state police official said Solis was “hidden among relatives” in the El Mezquital neighborhood where he was arrested. The official, Pablo Ernesto Rocha Acosta, didn’t give specifics about what led investigators to the neighborhood, saying only that Solis’ capture was the result of technology, field work and the exchange of information with United States authorities.
Solis was deported to the U.S. Tuesday evening and will be held in federal custody in El Paso, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Solis had been the target of an international manhunt after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, alleging that he shot and killed Salome Rodriguez Jr. in downtown Pomona while off-duty during the early morning hours of March 13. In the days that followed, Solis was fired from the Los Angeles Police Department and his father charged with lying to federal investigators about his son’s whereabouts.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez’s mother welcomed the news of Solis’ arrest. Lidia Rodriguez said she had kept a nightly vigil in the parking lot where her wounded son collapsed, praying federal agents would find the man accused of killing him.
“If it’s true he got caught, hallelujah!” Rodriguez said. “We think this is God’s work.”
Solis, a former Marine who served a tour in combat in Iraq, had spent nine months with the LAPD before authorities allege that he became involved in some kind of dispute with Rodriguez at a Pomona bar, then chased him and shot him. Coroner’s officials said Rodriguez, a 23-year-old truck driver, was shot four times.
Solis didn’t show up for work the day after the shooting, LAPD officials said. That night, Pomona police had publicly identified him as a person of interest in the investigation of the killing, circulating fliers with his photo and information about his missing car.
Meanwhile, authorities allege Solis made “incriminating statements” about the shooting and vowed he “would never be seen again,” according to documents filed in federal court.
Solis had ditched his Volkswagen Jetta a few blocks from the shooting and called his father for help, authorities said. Victor Solis left his Lancaster home the morning of March 13 and drove with his son 800 miles to El Paso, where he told authorities 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. Last week, a federal judge released Victor Solis on $10,000 bail.
Soon after the shooting, Pomona police formally identified Henry Solis as the suspect in the killing, describing him as armed and dangerous. The FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Explaining his swift decision to fire the probationary officer, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Solis had “dishonored” the department, his country and his family, and should turn himself in to “face the consequences.”
Friends and family said they were baffled by the allegations, recalling a driven yet easy-going man who had a deep sense of pride in his job as a Los Angeles police officer. Solis had an “unremarkable” history and no disciplinary issues with the LAPD, officials said.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez’s mother said she was grateful for her son’s many friends who shared Solis’ picture on social media, both in the U.S. and Mexico. Lidia Rodriguez said she still dreams of her son.
She found strength, she said, in her desire to see the day Solis would be caught. Now, she said, she hopes for a trial.
“The first day, I’ll be there,” she said. “I want him to see my family and who he killed.”
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