Man accused of killing 2 El Monte officers shot himself with police weapon, coroner says

A man accused of ambushing and killing two police officers at a motel in El Monte last year was struck nearly two dozen times by police gunfire before shooting himself in the head with an officer’s service weapon, according to a Los Angeles County Coroner’s report released Thursday.

On June 14, Officer Joseph Santana, 31, and Cpl. Michael Paredes, 42, were called to the Siesta Inn to check on the welfare of a woman who possibly had been stabbed, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Iberri said in the coroner’s report. When the officers arrived at the room on the first floor of the motel, the woman, who had not been stabbed, exited the room.

As the officers entered and approached the suspect, 35-year-old Justin Flores of Whittier, began walking towards the bathroom with his left arm up with a piece of clothing covering it and his right hand behind his back, Iberri said. Officer Santana holstered his weapon and began to move toward Flores, who then brandished a handgun and opened fire at the officers.

Paredes was struck first in the head and collapsed to the floor, the coroner’s report said.

A struggle ensued between Santana and Flores. Flores unsuccessfully tried to remove Santana’s handgun from his holster but was able to get ahold of Paredes’ firearm, according to the report.

There was an exchange of gunfire between Flores and Santana, during which time Flores shot Santana in the head before walking over to Paredes and shooting him again in the head. Paredes had also been struck in his lower abdomen according to the coroner’s report.

Flores then exited the motel room and began walking westbound on the sidewalk of Garvey Avenue, Iberri said. Multiple officers responded, shooting the suspect around 20 times before he collapsed onto the ground. He returned fire at police before turning Paredes’ service gun on himself.

Before turning the gun on himself, Flores had been struck by police gunfire in his head, arms, legs, back and several other bullet-grazing wounds on his body, according to the coroner’s report.

The woman who exited the room before the fatal confrontation was Flores’ wife, Diana, according to Lynn Covarrubias, who is Flores’ mother.

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