Suspect in Cop Slaying Arrested in Mexico
By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ, AP
BURBANK, Calif. (Nov. 28) - A 19-year-old man suspected of killing a rookie officer and wounding another policeman was arrested in Mexico on Thursday and returned to California, authorities said.
Officer Matthew Pavelka, 26, was killed Nov. 15 when two gunmen opened fire on him and a second officer during a traffic stop.
Davis A. Garcia quickly became the focus of the manhunt, and U.S. authorities were alerted to his whereabouts several days ago, police said. He was taken into custody Thursday in a residential area of Tijuana by Mexican authorities, Police Chief Tom Hoefel said. Gang members and friends had helped him elude police and escape to Mexico, Hoefel said.
Garcia was expected to be charged Monday with murder and attempted murder, said District Attorney Steve Cooley. Garcia, who is a U.S. citizen, also faces a charge of killing a police officer, the prosecutor said.
"When it comes to murdering one of our police officers, we don't forgive, we don't forget, we don't give up," Cooley said.
The slain officer's father, Michael Pavelka, a 29-year veteran with the Los Angeles Police Department, thanked local and Mexican authorities for apprehending Garcia.
"I'm feeling a sense of relief," he told reporters. "The man is in custody and we can now move on."
The shooting occurred after Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, were stopped by Officer Gregory Campbell in a hotel parking lot for driving without license plates. The two men suddenly got out of their vehicle and started shooting, authorities said.
Campbell and Pavelka, who arrived as backup, returned fire and Pavelka and Aranda were killed. Campbell, a 15-year veteran, remained hospitalized Thursday and watched the news conference announcing Garcia's arrest, said Sgt. William Berry. Campbell, who suffered wounds to the abdomen and neck, is expected to fully recover, Berry said.
Police have arrested more than 60 people, some of whom are Garcia's friends, family members and gang associates, in the investigation, Hoefel said. More arrests are expected.
Thousands of police officers paid their last respects to Pavelka last week at a memorial service in which he was remembered as a happy-go-lucky prankster who was proud of his 10 months of service. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Attorney General Bill Lockyer also attended the service.
Pavelka is the first law officer to be slain in the 82 years of the Burbank Police Department.
11/27/03 23:59 EST
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