Juan Abel Escalante, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy assigned to the Men's Central Jail, was shot and killed outside his Cypress Park home as he left for work about 5:40 Saturday morning. Escalante was 27 and leaves a wife and three children. LAPD chief William Bratton said it was too early to know if Escalante was targeted or whether the murder on Thorpe Avenue was random. Police were reported to be looking for a white four-door vehicle that may have fled the scene. From the Times story:
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca described Escalante, a U.S. Army reservist and 2 1/2-year department veteran, as "dedicated and hard-charging in the best sense of the word. . . . He lived up to the dream of serving his country, serving his county and honoring his family.
"Today is a very difficult day," Baca said.
Law enforcement sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to talk about the pending investigation, said detectives were pursuing a broad range of possible reasons for the attack. Among them are whether the slaying was a gang-related assassination connected to Escalante's work at the jail, a random drive-by shooting or the result of someone's personal grudge.
"The best detectives in our police department are handling this case," said Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz of the LAPD.