Deputy Shot in the Head at Jack in the Box Dies in Hospital

The California sheriff’s deputy who was shot while waiting for food at the counter of a Jack in the Box restaurant has died in hospital.

Los Angeles County deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano was dressed in civilian clothes without any sign of his job on June 10 when he was approached by a young man in the restaurant who then shot Solano in the head.

The gunman, who was not wearing a mask, ran out of the establishment, which was located in Alhambra. Officials expressed confusion as to the motivation of the shooting.

“There is no audio in the video, so we don’t know if words were exchanged,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Kent Wegener said, reported the Pasadena Star-News. “He was off-duty in civilian clothes. There was nothing that would indicate that he was a law enforcement officer. He wasn’t wearing uniform pants. He wasn’t wearing uniform shoes. He did not have a holster or identification exposed. He was off-duty.”

A suspect was arrested on June 10 and identified as Rhett McKenzie Nelson, a 30-year-old from Saint George, Utah. Officers located Nelson after getting a tip from a family member of the suspect.

Investigators believe there is a possibility Nelson may have carried out other crimes since entering California, the department said on Wednesday.

In an update Wednesday night, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that Solano had died from his injuries.

“The entire LASD Family has been shaken by the tragic news regarding the senseless and cowardly murder of Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano. With a heavy heart, and surrounded by Deputy Solano’s loved ones, I had to do the hardest thing I have ever had to do—announce the passing of one of my deputies,” he said in a statement, according to CBSLA.

Villanueva added: “Since the heinous act, I have spent a significant amount of time with Joseph’s family at the hospital, where medical professionals tirelessly worked around the clock to try to save his life. I was able to see firsthand the tremendous impact Deputy Solano had on his family, friends and partners throughout the department. I shared in their grief, and struggled with the realization that in the painful days ahead, no amount of comfort could ever fill the void left in our hearts. Deputy Solano was known as a kindhearted and generous family man, a provider for his mother, and an exemplary father to his children. We are a better department because of his selfless service.”

“I take comfort knowing the department is compassionately tending to the needs of the Solano family. Please join me in honoring Deputy Solano’s memory and keeping his family in our prayers. We appreciate the outpouring of support from everyone. Thank you,” he said.

Solano’s children spoke out after their father died.

“We have lost him,” son Matthew Solano said, reported KTLA. “He was a really good dad.”

“Not only did I lose a father figure, but a best friend,” added stepdaughter Jessica Jimenez. “All I ask is just don’t forget about him. He was a hard-working man and was loved by many.”

The deputy’s girlfriend, Julianna Loza, called the shooting “senseless.”

“Although the outcome was not what we wished it to be, we have solace knowing that he’s in a better place now,” Loza said.

Anyone with information in the case was asked to call homicide investigators at 323-890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call Crime Stoppers by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google Play or the Apple App Store, or by using the website lacrimestoppers.org.