No one could have known, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón insisted, that the murderer of two El Monte police officers was suddenly going to become violent. “We all wish that we could predict violence,” he said, “but the reality is that we can’t.”
The alleged gunman, Justin Flores, reportedly a known gang member with a criminal record that goes back to 2010, was arrested in 2020 and charged with possession of a handgun, ammunition and methamphetamine. Gascón’s office could have sought a prison sentence of nearly three years, but instead offered Flores a plea deal with no additional jail time and a couple of years on probation.
There were rumblings of trouble in the days before the shootings. The L.A. Times reported that law enforcement sources said Flores’ girlfriend had reported that he had assaulted her, but he was not arrested. One day before the violence in El Monte, Flores’ probation officer asked a court to revoke his probation for “desertion.”
In a press conference to address the controversy, Gascón portrayed Flores as someone with “no history of violence” before he gunned down the two police officers. “It was basically someone that had been drug addicted for many years,” the D.A. said. “He had been arrested mostly for drug related offenses.”