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Mexico must decide whether to charge family that hid fugitive LAPD cop, FBI says

  • Victor Solis, left, walks with his son Henry across the border into Mexico at El Paso. (Photo: FBI)

    Victor Solis, left, walks with his son Henry across the border into Mexico at El Paso. (Photo: FBI)

  • This photo provided by Mexico's attorney general's office, shows fugitive former Los Angeles police officer Henry Solis, 27, after he was captured by Mexican security forces in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (Mexico's Attorney Generals Office via AP)

    This photo provided by Mexico's attorney general's office, shows fugitive former Los Angeles police officer Henry Solis, 27, after he was captured by Mexican security forces in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (Mexico's Attorney Generals Office via AP)

The former probationary officer in the Los Angeles Police Department wanted in the March 13 shooting death of a man outside a nightclub in Pomona, California, eluded the FBI and Mexican authorities for months by shuttling between the houses of cousins, aunts and uncles and other relatives in Northern Mexico, investigators said on Wednesday.

FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola, who heads the agency's Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles, told reporters that Henry Solis, 27, who was wanted on charges of killing Salome Rodriguez Jr., 23, while off duty, had been spending his time indoors, staying off cell phones and avoiding social media. He even grew a beard.

"As we say in the trade, he was laying pretty low," Garriola said. "I mean, you don't go out frequently, you don't communicate."

Solis was arrested Tuesday in Ciudad Juárez in northern Mexico and deported to El Paso, Texas, where he's being held in a city jail as he awaits proceedings for extradition to California, El Paso police spokesman Darrel Petry said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, authorities from Mexico's Chihuahua state said that Solis had resisted arrest, but noted that no shots were fired in taking him into custody. Solis said that he knew he would be captured “sooner or later,” Mexican officials said.

With the help of his father, Solis fled for Mexico after the shooting, authorities said. Solis was fired by Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and urged to surrender.

Victor Solis, 53, was indicted in April for making false statements to federal agents. The LAPD officer's father told the FBI that he had dropped off his fugitive son at the El Paso bus station. 

Surveillance cameras at a bridge border crossing in El Paso, however, caught Victor and Henry crossing into Mexico side by side, according to an FBI affidavit.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Garriola said it would be up to police in Mexico whether to press charges on the relatives who harbored Solis while on the lam. Chihuahua police have not commented on the topic.

Garriola cited "gumshoe detective work" by the FBI and Mexican investigators for unearthing information over the weekend that indicated Solis was residing in the Colonia El Mezquital area of Juárez with family members. Garriola would not elaborate on the source of the information.

"Honestly it was us doing background on him and his family, sharing that information with the Mexicans, the Mexicans going out doing their investigation — intelligence gathering and shaking the trees," Garriola said. "And the big fruit fell off the tree."

The U.S. government expects to dismiss its warrant charging Solis with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and the Los Angeles County district attorney will handle his extradition and prosecution, the FBI said in Los Angeles.

"We pray that Salome Rodriguez's family can begin to heal as we move through the prosecution phase of this horrible crime," Pomona police Chief Paul Capraro said in a statement.

Rodriguez's family and friends held a prayer vigil Tuesday night after hearing Solis was in custody.

"We're happy. We're happy that he was caught," his mother, Lidia Rodriguez, said through tears.

Victor Solis is free on bail and awaiting trial in El Paso, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez ordered him not to return to California and instead reside with relatives in Texas.

A $25,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the arrest of Henry Solis. The FBI said it was evaluating whether it would pay the reward.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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