Two California police officers were killed Tuesday night after responding to a report of a stabbing in the Los Angeles area, officials said.
The officers were fatally shot at around 5:10 p.m. local time after responding to a call at a motel, Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said at a press conference Tuesday evening. He confirmed that officers confronted a suspect in a motel room and fired their weapons, and the suspect fled the room into a parking lot, where the officers fired again, the Los Angels Times reported.
Two officers and the suspect were hit by gunfire during the exchange, Meyer said. The officers were transported by ambulance to a local hospital but died of their injuries. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
One of the officers was a 22-year veteran of the El Monte Police Department, according to KTLA-TV. The other had been with the police force for less than a year.
The names of the slain officers have not yet been released.
Police have not released specific details of the shooting because an investigation of the facts is ongoing.
The mayor of El Monte did say that the officers were "essentially ambushed," but Meyer did not provide more information.
"We don't have all the facts yet," he said.
The city of El Monte said in a statement it is "saddened and shocked" by the violent deaths of the officers.
“There are no words to describe our grief and devastation by this senseless act as we learned about the passing of two of our police officers. It weighs heavy on our hearts and we are sending our support to their families. We would also like to thank the El Monte community and our surrounding government agencies for the outpouring support we have received in the last few hours,” the City of El Monte and the El Monte Police Department said in a joint statement.
El Monte police captain Ben Lowry, the acting chief of the police department, told reporters Tuesday the officers were "heroes" who made the "ultimate sacrifice."
“These two men were loved. They were good men. They paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their community, trying to help somebody. … They were murdered by a coward,” Lowry said.
The fallen officers were honored by a procession of law enforcement vehicles on Interstate 10, which traveled from El Monte to the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, where the officers were pronounced dead. Flowers and candles have been placed outside the El Monte Police Department as a memorial to them.