Utah Man Under Arrest In Connection With Los Angeles County Deputy Shooting
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Police said a man from St. George was arrested Tuesday in connection with the shooting of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy and may be the suspect in another shooting that left a man dead.
Thirty-year-old Rhett Nelson was apprehended after officers executed a tactical stop in Long Beach, according to investigators.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said Nelson, who was reported missing in Utah roughly two weeks ago, had entered a church in Long Beach at around 10 a.m. and called his father.
I can say with certainty the @LASDHQ has arrested a suspect in the shooting of Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano. We must now have faith in the legal process as the investigation continues. However, during this time, I ask everyone who can, to pray for Deputy Solano & his family. pic.twitter.com/fElUbwfHMu
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 12, 2019
“During that call, he referred to committing murder in Southern California, obviously concerning his father,” Wegener said during a news conference. “The father called Long Beach Police Department to report what his son had told him.”
Wegener said police did a reverse directory search of the phone number provided by the dad, and Long Beach officers spotted Nelson’s Kia Sorrento driving from the church and followed it, ultimately conducting a felony stop in a neighborhood to take Nelson into custody.
“The suspect’s appearance and the video both matched the video of the assault on our deputy,” Wegener said.
Detectives said Nelson entered a Jack in the Box restaurant in Alhambra Monday evening and shot off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Solano in the head.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Solano, 50, had been getting his mother’s car serviced next door and had stopped in at the restaurant prior to being shot.
Please keep #LASD Deputy Joseph Solano & his family in your prayers. His current medical condition is listed as grave & on life support. He was getting an oil change for his ill mother’s vehicle, when he was shot. pic.twitter.com/4Dtz8eVdcW
— LA County Sheriff's (@LASDHQ) June 11, 2019
“We’re praying for his recovery,” Villanueva said. “He definitely was a kind-hearted, generous person, always willing to help others before himself, had a bright smile, very positive individual. Everybody likes working with him, so we’re all rooting for him to make a recovery.”
Solano was still in ‘grave’ condition as of Tuesday afternoon.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Nelson was also a suspect in a deadly shooting in the Newton area that involved a suspect with similar descriptions to Nelson and his car.
“According to other witnesses, an individual inside that vehicle had a brief exchange with our victim, gunfire erupted, and our victim sustained at least one gunshot wound and died at the scene,” Moore said.
Wegener said detectives believed Nelson had been in the area since early June.
Nelson was reported missing in Utah in late May.
A search of Utah court records showed Nelson pleaded guilty in 2014 for driving with a measurable controlled substance and had also had other prior drug-related charges that had been dismissed.