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.
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
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
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
“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
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
Mayor Stacey Murphy was among those who paid tribute to Pavelka at
the council meeting, which included a moment of silence in the slain
“The community is grieving the loss of a young hero,” Murphy said.