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Funeral held for slain sheriff's deputy Joseph Solano

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Hundreds of mourners gathered in downtown Los Angeles Monday for memorial services for sheriff's Deputy Joseph Solano, who was shot in an apparently unprovoked attack inside an Alhambra Jack in the Box restaurant.

The funeral for Solano began about 9:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, 555 W. Temple St. Burial was planned following the church service in a private ceremony at Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Blvd., in East Los Angeles, after a procession to the cemetery.

Uniformed deputies escorted the casket into the cathedral, and a large photo of the slain deputy was displayed near it, along with flowers arranged in the shape of a sheriff's badge.

Among the mourners was Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who spoke to the gathering.

"At times like this, I see everyone coming together for this cause,'' Villanueva said. "And the Solano family, I want to let you know that we're with you, all the way. We'll always be with you.''

Matthew Solano shared memories of his father.

"My father's greatest lesson to me was fear,'' Solano said. "He taught me that fear is all based on one's perception. He taught me to face fear, to look at fear right in the eye, and with everything you've got, (to) fight. ...''

"My father had so much life ahead of him,'' Solano said. "And for it to be taken away in the blink of an eye is unjustifiably heartbreaking. I say this to you dad, with no fear in my eye -- that I will serve you justice. And I will look death right in the eyes for you, and I will fight. Long live my father, Deputy Joseph Gilbert Solano. He was a good man, he was a great father, and he was a beautiful soul. May he rest in peace, and forever be with Grandpa Joe.''

A number of streets near the Cathedral were blocked for the funeral, including Temple Street between Grand Avenue and Hill Street; and Hill Street between Temple and Ord streets.

Solano, 50, was gunned down at a Jack in the Box in Alhambra on June 10. A Utah man was arrested in Long Beach the next day in connection with the deputy's killing.

Rhett McKenzie Nelson, 30, was charged June 13 with Solano's death and two counts of robbery for allegedly carrying out heists at a 7-Eleven store and a Shell gas station, both in Long Beach, hours after the killings.

Nelson is also accused of killing 31-year-old Dmitry Alekseyevich Kolstov -- about an hour before Solano's killing -- in the 1900 block of East Seventh Place, between Santa Fe Avenue and Alameda Street, in downtown Los Angeles.

Nelson is jailed without bail while awaiting arraignment July 22 at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.

Solano was at the counter of the restaurant when he was shot in the head in what sheriff's officials believe was a random attack. Villanueva said there was no indication the shooter knew that Solano -- who was off-duty and not in uniform -- was a sheriff's deputy.

"The deputy was alerted in the restaurant that someone was following him, and that's when he turned to confront (the person), and that's when the shooting happened,'' Villanueva said following the crime. "That much we do know. But the motive, the rationale from the suspect -- that's the million-dollar question.''

The Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing deputies, is collecting donations on behalf of Solano's family. Donations can be made to the ALADS CARES program at 2 Cupania Circle, Monterey Park, CA, 91755.

CNS contributed to this report.