A 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) stands accused of executing a gang-style drive-by shooting, killing one man.
Deputies with the LASD arrested 41-year-old Francisco Gamez Wednesday and booked him for murder and attempted murder. He was held on $4 million bail and also faces an additional charge for using a firearm during a felony.
The victim, 38-year-old Armando Casillas, was standing outside his mother's home in Sylmar, Calif. when he was wounded last Father's Day. He was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead. A second person was also shot at, but escaped unharmed.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times that the shooting stemmed from a disagreement Gamez's son had with someone else. The son called Gamez to the house, who allegedly drove up to the scene and started firing. Gamez was off-duty during the alleged shooting.
When detectives began to suspect that the culprit was one of their own, the case was transferred to the elite Robbery Homicide division within the LASD. As the investigation progressed, Gamez was placed on paid leave Jul. 3. He had been working as a detective in West Hollywood, Calif.
Gamez's leave was kept quiet, but Wednesday's news about his arrest was apparently no surprise to a few residents who have been keeping a close eye on the case.
In a story about the case from August, a commenter on the Times site claimed to be the victim's brother and wrote that the murderer could be a member of law enforcement. The Times comment:
"We think he is a L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF .. The reason we think he is a Sheriff is that he shouted to my Brother 'L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF WHERE YOU FROM' as if the sheriff was in a gang."
LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman clarified to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that the crime does not appear to be gang-related, but confirmed that an argument preceded the shooting.
"It's always surprising and disappointing any time someone in law enforcement is implicated in the most heinous of crimes such as this," said Lt. Neiman to the Tribune.
Joseph Casillas, the victim's brother, said Gamez's arrest has only served to make him feel even more afraid in the aftermath of Armando Casillas' death. This person is supposed to protect the community," said Joseph Casillas to NBC LA. "How do you think we feel? We were running around scared. Now, it's even more scary because you lose confidence."
In a statement, Sheriff Lee Baca said that the accusations against Gamez were "deeply disturbing" to the entire department. In a separate interview with reporters, LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore added, "It casts a pall over the work that scores of deputy sheriff's do every single day."
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