Olga Garcia reports that her 31-year-old son planned a trip to Disneyland with his family, his wife, and three children. This was a day that would be filled with laughter, memories, and smiles for a man who was living the dream.
Joseph Santana, who was married to his high school sweetheart and was proud to have been a father to three.
“His dream was to be an El monte police officer,”Garcia. “He wanted to work in the city he grew up in and give back to the city.”
After Officer Santana, 42-year-old Cpl. Michael Paredes was killed in the line-of-duty shooting. Outside the police station, mourners have placed flowers, candles, and other mementos at a memorial to the officers.
Santana’s El Monte roots run deep. He was the middle of two children and had two sisters. He graduated El Monte High School, where basketball and football were his favorite sports. After that, he was inspired by his step-father to become a law enforcer.
El Monte High School is where he also met his wife. They had three children together: a 9-year old daughter and two 2-year-old twin brothers.
“They were like the perfect family,” Garcia said. Garcia said, “They were very united and did a lot together.
“He was a good son, respectful and everybody just loved him. His silliness, the things he would do and say, he was a prankster.”
Santana worked six years for the city’s Public Works Department. After three years working as a San Bernardino County deputy sheriff, Santana joined the El Monte Police Department in last year.
Santana didn’t have a Tuesday work schedule. He took a shift, and texted his mom that morning.
Six hours later the family’s world was destroyed.
Santana and Paredes responded in an emergency to a report of a stabbing at a San Gabriel Valley community east from downtown Los Angeles. Officers confronted the man in a hotel room who ran into a lot.
Two officers were killed by gunfire during a gun fight that also claimed the life of the man. He was not on probation for a weapons offense and had been arrested in the past.
“I saw online, they said two El Monte police officers got shot, so I called my husband,” Garcia said. Garcia said. “I FaceTimed him and I said, ‘Are you ok?’ His eyes were watering. I asked him, “Is Joseph okay?” Please tell me he’s ok.’ And, he just told me, ‘They’re working on him.’
“I knew he was gone. It’s like a piece of my heart is gone and it’ll never come back.
Garcia claimed that Garcia’s family had plans to visit Disneyland Thursday two days after the shooting.
“It feels like it’s a bad nightmare, and I’m going to wake up the way it used to be, but it’s not,” Garcia said. “He’s gone.”
Funeral arrangements are being made for the El Monte police officers.
This shooting occurred one day after an officer of California Highway Patrol was shot in the back during a traffic stop at Studio City. The officer was expected to survive and the suspect was captured after an hours-long hunt in Van Nuys.