FULLERTON — An off-duty Los Angeles police officer working as a security guard at a night club shot and killed a Santa Ana man early Friday during a parking lot brawl, police said.
The 2 a.m. incident erupted when seven people began fighting outside the Carnivale Club at the Orange Fair Mall. Gunshots were heard by two security guards who were sitting in a car in the parking area on South Lemon Street, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Elmer Pellegrino said. Both guards are LAPD officers.
Pellegrino said that Eric Parga, 22, was killed after he allegedly fired a .22-caliber, semiautomatic pistol at a crowd of people who were fighting.
Officers Rancy Garcia, 34, and David Navarro, 32, jumped out of their car when they saw Parga with the gun, Pellegrino said, and Garcia ordered Parga to drop his weapon.
"Parga ignored his commands, pointed the weapon toward the group and fired three rounds," Pellegrino said. Garcia then fired, hitting Parga.
Fullerton police offered a similar version of events. But Fullerton Sgt. Neal Baldwin said the guards were coming out of the Carnivale Club when they saw Parga and were not sitting in a car.
Parga died shortly after being taken to Anaheim Memorial Hospital with a bullet wound in the chest, a hospital official said.
Two witnesses to the shooting, Parga's brother, Brian Parga, 26, and a friend, Raymond Arzola, 20, insisted that Parga was unarmed and that he was shot in the back while running toward the car of a friend who had driven them to the disco. They said they did not hear a warning before the shots were fired by the off-duty officers.
"Someone yelled that the police were coming, so I pushed Eric to try to get him away (from the fight)," Arzola said. "We were both running side by side, and I thought that he tripped. Then I looked down, and my pants were covered with blood."
Both Arzola and Brian Parga confirmed that they heard gunshots before the off-duty officers arrived. They said, however, that the shots were not fired by anyone in their group of five, nor did they appear to be fired by the two men with whom they were fighting.
Baldwin said the people involved in the fight were interviewed by investigators and released. The case is being investigated by Fullerton police, the district attorney's officer-involved shooting team and the LAPD robbery-homicide division.
Garcia and Navarro have been with the LAPD for 10 and four years, respectively, Pellegrino said.