Gary Moskowitz and Ryan Carter
Investigators knew for several days that the man they believe killed
Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka had fled south of the border.
“We had reason to believe that was possible, but we didn’t want
him to know we had reason to believe that,” Burbank Police Sgt.
William Berry said.
Mexican law-enforcement officials found 19-year-old David A.
Garcia at a home in a residential area of Tijuana on Thursday
afternoon, Burbank Police Chief Thomas Hoefel announced that night
during a news conference in front of Burbank Police and Fire
Police from several agencies had been searching for Garcia since
Nov. 15, when he and Ramon Aranda, 25, allegedly opened fire on
Pavelka, 26, and Officer Gregory Campbell, 41. The officers were shot
after approaching Garcia and Aranda as they sat inside a 1999
Cadillac Escalade in the north parking lot of the Ramada Inn, 2900 N.
San Fernando Blvd. Campbell approached the car when he saw it had
paper license plates and no visible registration, and called for
backup, to which Pavelka responded.
Pavelka died shortly after the gun battle. Campbell remained
hospitalized Friday, recovering from wounds to his neck and stomach.
He watched the news conference on television from his hospital bed,
Berry said. Aranda died at the scene after being shot by the
Garcia was captured by Mexican authorities, who turned him over to
United States marshals at the U.S. border Thursday afternoon. Federal
authorities then released Garcia into Burbank Police custody, Hoefel
Police declined to give specifics about what Garcia was doing when
arrested, but Berry said investigators received information that
several gang members and associates helped Garcia escape to Mexico.
More than 60 people have been arrested in connection with the
investigation into the first fatal shooting of a Burbank officer in
more than 80 years.
Garcia had been staying in Tijuana for several days, it was
reported. Following leads, a task force led by U.S. marshals began
trying to find him there, Berry said.
But the arrest does not mean the investigation is over, police
“We expect more arrests,” Berry said. “Just because he is in
custody, it doesn’t mean we will forget about the people who helped
Garcia, who is being held without bail, is scheduled to be
arraigned Tuesday morning in Burbank Superior Court. A hearing for
his twin brother, James, is scheduled for Monday on weapons
possession charges and allegations that he helped his brother escape.
Pavelka’s mother, Billie Sue, and father, Michael -- along with
his girlfriend, Jessica DiCristina, brother, Nick, and other family
members -- attended Thursday’s news conference. Pavelka’s mother’s
face remained stern during the conference. His father’s eyes were
glassy as he stepped in front of the cameras to speak.
“We, as a family, have been through quite a lot,” said Michael
Pavelka, a veteran Los Angeles Police detective.
“We are pleased that [Garcia] is in custody, and we are here to
say thank you to all those who worked so hard to find him. We’ve been
waiting for this moment. It is a sense of relief,” Michael Pavelka
Garcia will be charged with murder and attempted murder and could
also be charged with possession of firearms and narcotics, Los
Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley announced during the press
“When it comes to murdering one of our Burbank Police officers, we
don’t forgive, and we don’t forget,” Cooley said Thursday.
LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell described all of the
law-enforcement officers who worked to find Garcia and bring him into
custody as “one body, working together.”
“The message is very clear,” McDonnell said Thursday. “It doesn’t
matter where you go after doing something like this, we will get
Berry said Friday was a quiet day at Burbank headquarters.
“At this point, we are just recovering,” he said.
Berry did not know if any of the $110,000 in reward money offered
for information in the case would be dispersed.