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LOS ANGELES -- The off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was slain outside his home over the weekend was shot from behind and may not have seen his killer, police detectives said Monday.
Authorities stressed that all angles, including the deputy's work in the jails, his personal life and the gang violence that pervades the Cypress Park area where he died, are being examined for a possible motive.
Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Patrick Gannon said detectives will examine all aspects of Deputy Juan Abel Escalante's life up to the moment he was shot dead outside his parents' home early Saturday.
"We have several different teams looking at the different possible explanations," Gannon said.
Gannon said Escalante may not have seen his assailant approach because he was trying to adjust a child seat in the back seat of his car.
Gannon said witnesses saw a gray car speeding away from the area about 5:45 a.m., when the shooting occurred in the neighborhood about three miles north of downtown.
"Everything is on the table," said Steve Whitmore, a Sheriff's Department spokesman. "They are looking at whether it was personal, related to his job, whether it was gang members. Nothing has been ruled out here."
Escalante, a deputy for 2 1/2 years, worked in the area of the Men's Central Jail where some of the most dangerous leaders of the Mexican Mafia and other gangs are held. That job is one of the avenues detectives are exploring.
But investigators have not ruled out that the shooting was a random crime or that some of the neighborhood's gang members took it upon themselves to shoot a law enforcement officer in their midst or that Escalante was mistaken for a gang rival, detectives said.