City of Pomona Mourns Death of police officer

Family, friends, colleagues and the community of Pomona gathered outside the city's police department Sunday night to pay respects to a young police officer killed while on duty.

Officer Gregory Casillas, 30, of Upland was responding to a gunman barricaded in an apartment building on South Palomares Street Friday night when he was shot and killed.

"As a son, he was a great son. As a police officer, we spoke literally every day and he always said: 'I'm doing this because this is what I love'," said the fallen officer's father, Gregory Casillas IV. "And he'd probably do it again."

"We're here for you. Anything you need," said Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval. "We're grieving. We're mourning, and we're going to be here with you."

"Officer Casillas was part of the future of the Pomona police department. He was respectful, intelligent; he was compassionate, and he surely had a bright future," Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri said as he held back tears at the candlelight vigil.

Casillas had been with the Pomona Police Department since 2014. But he was only sworn in as an officer in September 2017 and was about to finish field training. 

The fallen officer left behind a wife and two young children.

"Greg is a hero. A man to look up to. He left his family at home to protect yours, and his ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten," Olivieri said. "Our Pomona police officers were out doing what they always do, putting themselves in harm's way to protect Pomona, a community that we love.

On Friday around 9 p.m., Pomona police officers tried to pull over Isaias De Jesus Valencia, 39, of Pomona for alleged reckless driving.

He refused to stop. So officers gave chase. The pursuit ended when Valencia's pickup truck crashed into a parked car, and he took off on foot, according to Capt. Chris Bergner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"The suspect ran into an apartment complex where officers gave chase," Bergner said. "As he barricaded himself in a bedroom, officers attempted to contact him and he began firing through the door, striking two officers."

The second wounded officer, Alex Nguyen, underwent surgery. He was listed in stable condition and expected to survive.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the injured officer was shot in the face when he attempted to help Casillas.

All the while, crisis negotiators tried to persuade Valencia into surrendering during the standoff but he refused, said Deputy Armando Viera Jr. of the Sheriff's Information Bureau.

Special Enforcement Bureau deputies then deployed tear gas and he still refused to come out.

More than 15 hours after the standoff began, "SEB entered the location where the suspect was barricaded and deployed an LASD K-9," Viera said. "Ultimately the suspect was taken into custody." 

The suspected cop killer remained in jail without bail.

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