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The manhunt continues

Ryan Carter

A suspect in the shooting death of a Burbank Police officer remained

at large Tuesday night as the officer’s parents pleaded for the

public’s help in bringing their son’s killer to justice.

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David A. Garcia has eluded authorities since a Saturday evening

shootout that left Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka dead and

fellow officer Gregory Campbell critically wounded.

Burbank Police is heading a task force that includes more than

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100 members of several law- enforcement agencies, including the FBI,

the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Glendale and Los

Angeles police departments.

“We won’t rest until we bring this man in,” Burbank Police Chief

Thomas Hoefel said Tuesday during a news conference at police

headquarters.

Hoefel said he believes Garcia, 19, of Sun Valley, has not gone

far since the shooting at a Ramada Inn parking lot on North San

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Fernando Boulevard.

“Every indication is that he is still in the area and is being

sheltered by family and friends,” Hoefel said.

To demonstrate their resolve, officers issued more than 20 search

warrants between Saturday and Tuesday, and took at least seven men

into custody for allegedly aiding and abetting Garcia, including his

twin brother, police said.

James Garcia, 19, and friend Erwin DeLeon, 20, who were arrested

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Sunday in Sun Valley in connection with the manhunt, pleaded not

guilty in Burbank Superior Court on Tuesday to six felony counts,

including aiding David Garcia in his escape from police. The pair

were also charged with possession of a machine gun, silencer and

three assault rifles.

Earlier Tuesday, Pavelka’s parents appeared before the media,

pleading for the public’s help in finding David Garcia.

“Last Saturday, [Matthew’s] life was cut short by a violent man

with no regard for human life,” said Pavelka’s father, Michael, a

veteran LAPD detective. “I stand here before you asking for the

public’s help in bringing David A. Garcia to justice. Until the time

that he is brought to justice, the community cannot rest knowing that

such a violent man is at large.”

Pavelka, 26, was fatally wounded during a traffic stop in an area

police said was known for drug sales and car theft. The rookie

officer responded to Campbell’s call for backup after the 41-year-old

officer approached David Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, who were

sitting in a 1999 Cadillac Escalade with paper license plates and no

visible registration parked in the hotel’s north lot at 2900 N. San

Fernando Blvd., Burbank Police Sgt. William Berry said.

Campbell became suspicious when the occupants couldn’t produce

registration papers, backed away from the sport utility vehicle and

radioed for help. Pavelka, who had been an officer for 10 months,

responded immediately. The officers walked toward the front of the

vehicle without their guns drawn, Berry said.

David Garcia and Aranda got out of the Escalade and opened fire,

emptying 30 rounds from two handguns each, police said. The

officers, who were wearing bulletproof vests, fired back with about

15 rounds, killing Aranda, police said.

Pavelka was shot more than a dozen times, and died during surgery

at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center on Saturday night, Berry

said. Campbell was shot three times, including once in the neck, but

is expected to recover. Hoefel said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting

that Campbell was beginning to regain some feeling in his upper body.

The shooting stunned a community and a police department that had

not had an officer shot and killed in the line of duty since the

department’s inception in 1921.

The department’s long-standing reputation for safety was

comforting to Pavelka’s parents, who were “relieved” when Burbank

Police Department offered Pavelka a job.

“In my experience in the Los Angeles Police Department, I’ve been

to many police officers’ funerals over my almost 30 years of service,

and I felt comfortable that he would be safe here,” Mike Pavelka

said. “Obviously, that didn’t turn out to be the case.”

Grief counseling has been made available to more than 300 police

and civilian workers at the department, Lt. Rick Madrid said.

“Times like this bring a mixture of shock and sadness,” Burbank

City Manager Mary Alvord said. “This is like losing a family member.

It is sad that it takes an event like this for us to realize how much

in harm’s way police are and to serve in the capacity they do. You

take it for granted every day that a simple traffic stop can lead to

this.”

Mayor Stacey Murphy was among those who paid tribute to Pavelka at

the council meeting, which included a moment of silence in the slain

officer’s honor.

“The community is grieving the loss of a young hero,” Murphy said.


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