LOS ANGELES (AP) — A large turnout was expected Monday at the funeral of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy shot in an off-duty attack at a fast-food restaurant by a man also suspected of killing a renowned Russian snowboarder an hour earlier.
Deputy Joseph Solano will be memorialized Monday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. Afterward a police procession will accompany his body to a cemetery for burial.
A Utah man, Rhett Nelson, has been charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Solano and Dmitry Koltsov. His attorney, Jenn Bartick, declined to comment. Nelson, who is being held without bail, has yet to enter a plea and is due back in court on July 22. Police haven't identified a motive for the seemingly random attacks June 10.
Kolstov, 31, competed for years at Russian snowboarding championship meets and international competitions, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
He was skateboarding with friends when a man drove up and shot Kolstov in the head without provocation, police said.
Investigators say after shooting Kolstov, Nelson drove several miles east to suburban Alhambra and shot Solano while the off-duty deputy waited in line at a Jack in the Box restaurant.
Authorities also said Nelson committed two armed robberies in Long Beach.
Separately, police in San Diego County are investigating if Nelson robbed five convenience stores with a handgun.
Nelson's family says he suffers from mental illness and an opiate addiction. His family reported him missing last month when he left their Utah home with a firearm and said he wanted to "make it on his own or die," according to St. George, Utah, police. His family told police they did not believe he was suicidal or a danger to others at the time.
Solano, 50, died at a hospital two days after being shot. He was described as a devoted family man and consummate law enforcement professional.
Friends of Koltsov have been scrambling to raise money to send his remains back to his family in Moscow, the Times said.
Koltsov first rode a skateboard at the age of 14 and quickly became integral to Moscow's fledgling skate scene, according to a statement provided to the Times from his sister, Marfa Koltsova. He worked with some friends to create Limited Skate Division, a do-it-yourself skate park in Moscow modeled after a similar venue in Portland, Oregon, she said.
Koltsov began competing in international snowboarding competitions in 2006, according to the International Ski Federation. He placed third in the big air snowboarding competition at the 2010 Russian national championships. Two years later, he earned a silver medal during a halfpipe competition in Switzerland, according to the federation.
He moved to Southern California in 2015 hoping to stay involved in the skate and snowboarding scenes without the pressures of trying to compete on a world stage, friends said. Since arriving, Koltsov had become something of an ambassador to other well-known Russian skaters and snowboarders visiting the area, said Kalil Hammouri, who lived with Koltsov for several years.
"He was almost like an unofficial coach to all the Russian competitive skateboarders. They would come here for competitions and he would house them, feed them and make sure they got where they needed to go," said Hammouri, 28.