Utah man arrested, suspected of shooting off-duty Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. (ABC4 News) – A Utah man was arrested after an off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was shot in the head in a fast food restaurant, authorities said.

Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano was in a Jack in the Box in Los Angeles County on Monday when he was “tragically and senselessly shot in the head,” Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. He remains in critical condition.

Courtesy of LA County Sheriff’s Office

Solano, a 13-year veteran, “needs our prayers,” the sheriff told reporters Monday night.

Solano, who was off-duty and in civilian clothes at the time of the shooting, was waiting for his food when he was shot once in the back of the head, police said.

The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Rhett Mckenzie Nelson of St. George, was located in the car and taken into custody after a traffic stop, police said.

Nelson is believed to have shot and killed another man an hour before shooting Solano, police said.

When officers took Nelson into custody, a revolver was found inside the vehicle, along with items Nelson was described as wearing during the shooting, including a hat and maroon shirt, police said.

Nelson was reported as a missing person out of St. George and his family was concerned for his whereabouts, officials said, noting fliers were posted about Nelson’s disappearance on social media.

The suspect’s father, according to police, contacted authorities after Nelson called him on Wednesday and allegedly admitted involvement in both shootings.

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