On November 15, 2003, Officer Matthew Pavelka was gunned down in a brutal act of violence. The resulting investigation identified David Garcia as the person responsible for Officer Pavelka’s murder. After a two-week manhunt, David Garcia was arrested and has remained in custody since his arrest.
The shooting occurred in a Ramada Inn parking lot near Burbank Airport. Officer Greg Campbell was on patrol and saw two men sitting in a car without license plates in an area then known for drug and gang-related activity. Officer Campbell radioed for assistance and Officer Pavelka arrived.
David Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, began firing on the officers. Both officers were hit. Pavelka, 26, was killed, and Campbell was seriously wounded. Aranda was killed. Garcia fled and was arrested in Tijuana on Thanksgiving Day 2003 following an extensive manhunt.
David Garcia, charged in the murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Campbell, was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and all other counts in connection with the 2003 killing. Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry accepted the plea of Garcia, and imposed the sentence at a hearing this morning. Garcia admitted to the first-degree murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Campbell. David Garcia also pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of methamphetamine, two counts each of possession of a machine gun and possession of an assault weapon and one count of possession of a silencer. In addition, Garcia admitted to two special circumstance allegations: the murder victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties; and the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.
Today’s sentencing brings to a close a nearly decade long quest for justice for the murder of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka and the severe wounding of Officer Gregory Campbell.