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Deputy shot in East L.A. described as rising leader, praised by Sheriff Baca

January 12, 2011 |  4:55 pm

Deputy-shot Mohamed Ahmed, the deputy wounded Tuesday in a shootout in East L.A., was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday as family and colleagues rallied by his side.

A Somali immigrant, the 27-year-old Ahmed was seen as a promising young deputy in the department and supported his six younger siblings and his mother with his salary.

Ahmed was wounded in the face in the shooting. The man who alleged shot him, Nestor Torres, was shot to death by another deputy.

Torres was a Lot Stoners gang shot-caller well-known to deputies, authorities said. He had been arrested more than 20 times, prosecutors said, and in 2004 was charged in the shooting of two gang rivals in a liquor store after they complimented one of his many tattoos.

“You have two very different extremes,” said Sheriff Lee Baca Wednesday.

Baca said that he saw Ahmed as a future leader in the Sheriff's Department, noting that his Muslim background could help build bridges. Baca said Ahmed believed in the American dream and preached religious tolerance, volunteering his time at Islamic community centers and doing outreach for the Sheriff’s Department with the Muslim community.

Ahmed immigrated to the U.S. when he was 7. His father died last year, sheriff’s officials said, leaving Ahmed to support his widowed mother and six younger siblings. The Orange County resident joined the Sheriff’s Department about two years ago. Most deputies must start their careers working in the county’s jail system. While such stints can last years, Ahmed was able to move to patrol work in only two years.

Colleagues held a vigil along with Ahmed’s family at the hospital Wednesday. Capt. Mike Parker said colleagues swapped stories about his sense of humor and high energy.

“By all accounts, the deputy injured in the incident is an extraordinary young individual, the kind of deputy sheriff we all want to see serving Los Angeles County residents and businesses," said Steve Remige, director of the L.A. County deputies' union.  “We're hopeful of his quick recovery.”

Ahmed’s condition is not consider life-threatening, but doctors said he suffered a severe wound to one of his eyes and to parts of his face. When he awoke Wednesday morning, his mother told officials, he asked about the condition of his partner and the welfare of his brothers. He also asked when he could return to the streets.

Authorities said Ahmed and his training officer were on patrol near Floral Drive and North Brannick Avenue in a neighborhood of aging bungalows below the hills of City Terrace. They saw Torres and a woman in a vehicle parked in a red zone.

The training officer recognized Torres. Knowing he was a parolee, the deputies decided to talk to him. As they got out of their cruiser, Torres got out too, pulling a gun and shooting Ahmed in the face. Torres then turned the gun to the training officer’s chest, but before he could shoot, the officer deflected the weapon, using his own gun to shoot and kill the suspect. Authorities have declined to name the training officer.

For Torres, a reputed gang member who went by the monikers “Demon” and “Neto,” it was the last in a long history of brush-ins with the law. Court records show that in 2004, he ran into two members of the rival gang Stoners 13 at a liquor store.

“I don’t think you should be talking to me,” he told the gang members, when they complimented the “LOTT 13” tattoo on his abdomen. He challenged the men to go outside and fight, an offer they refused, according to authorities, because they knew Torres and another gang member waiting outside were armed. Soon after, shots rang out, with Torres’ companion allegedly unloading his gun at the men still in the liquor store.

Torres was sentenced to seven years in state prison in that case.


Sheriff's deputy shot in face, may lose eye

Deputy and his training officer confronted by parolee in East L.A. shooting

-- Andrew Blankstein and Robert Faturechi

Photo: Mohamed Ahmed. L.A. County Sheriff's Department