A Los Angeles firefighter who has been missing since August in Baja California may be the victim of a “violent kidnapping,” according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Francisco “Frank” Aguilar, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, disappeared Aug. 20 from a condominium near Rosarito. He has not communicated with family members since.
Aguilar sent his family a photo of the beach when he arrived in Rosarito, but that was the last time they heard from him, Los Angeles’ CBS2 reported.
His brother and cousin went to the condo – in San Antonio Del Mar, between Tijuana and Rosarito – to check on him the next day.
“They had found things moved around in his condo, doors were open, picture frames were moved. It was kind of a scene like people were looking for something and they discovered two vehicles were missing, a laptop and a few more items,” Aguilar’s daughter, Bella, told CBS2.
The family followed up by filing a missing persons report with Mexican authorities.
Garcetti made the announcement about Aguilar at the beginning of a COVID-19 update this week.
“I want to say very clearly to anybody who would kidnap a member of our fire department that this is a member of not just our city, government, family, but of our community here in Los Angeles,” the mayor said.
Garcetti said he would speak with federal authorities and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas more about the incident.
“We will work tirelessly to make sure that Frank is returned safely,” Garcetti said. “This is somebody who has put his life on the line for us, and we will do everything in our power … to ensure that law enforcement in Mexico has whatever support it needs.”
The FBI has offered assistance to Mexican law enforcement authorities, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told City News Service.
“If this message gets to anybody who would dare kidnap an Angeleno who serves the people of Los Angeles, let him go and make sure that he is able to safely return to our city and to his family,” Garcetti said.
Aguilar owns the condominium in San Antonio Del Mar, his brother Gabriel told the Los Angeles Daily News
“It’s just shocking because we associate Rosarito with the family, a safe vacation spot and just to hear those words come from Mayor Garcetti was just very surreal,” Bella said.
“We haven’t received any calls or ransoms yet. We’re all just sitting and making calls as much as we can but we’re not receiving information,” Bella said.
LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders told reporters that the department is cooperating in the search for Aguilar. He is assigned to Station 44 in Cypress Park.