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Sheriff's deputy accused in fatal shooting

A veteran Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy has been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, with police alleging he committed a shooting in June.

[Updated at 7:07 p.m.: The deputy, Francisco Gamez, has been with the department for 17 years and was last working as a detective in West Hollywood, authorities said.

A law enforcement source told The Times that the victim and the deputy's son were involved in a fight, and the deputy's son called his father to the scene. The deputy allegedly drove up soon after and exchanged words before opening fire from inside his car, said sources, who asked for anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. He then allegedly drove a short distance, before shooting at a second person, sources said.

That person was not injured, according to authorities.

At the time of the killing, authorities said the victim, Armondo Casillas, 38, got into a verbal argument with an unknown person.  At some point, the other person left the area only to return and shoot Casillas in a drive-by. Now authorities are saying that the shooter was not the same person who initially got into the argument.]

In August, a person who identified himself as the victim's brother commented on the website of the Los Angeles Times, saying he suspected a deputy.

"We think he is a L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF," the comment stated. "The reason we think he is a Sheriff is that he shouted to my Brother "L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF WHERE YOU FROM" as if the sheriff was in a gang."

The person who wrote the comment could not be reached Wednesday evening.

Gamez was arrested by LAPD officers and booked into the LAPD's 77th Street station Wednesday. Bail is set at $4 million, according to the LAPD. 

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department placed Gamez on leave July 3 after learning from the LAPD of the investigation. “He’s been stripped of all law enforcement power,” Whitmore said.

The deputy was a 17-year veteran, Whitmore said, who was last working as a detective at the sheriff’s West Hollywood station.

“The sheriff and the department are deeply concerned about this,” Whitmore said. “It casts a pall over the scores and scores of deputy sheriffs that every day do their job.”

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-- Andrew Blankstein, Robert Faturechi and Richard Winton

 
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