Investigation continues in fatal shooting of Whittier man in El Monte

EL MONTE >> Detectives continue seeking clues in the mysterious slaying of a Whittier man who was shot to death while sitting in a car with his girlfriend over the weekend.
Simon Mendoza, 40, died at the scene of Saturday’s 12:32 a.m. shooting in a residential neighborhood in the 1300 block of Medina Court in El Monte, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
The Whittier resident, who held three jobs, was sitting in the driver seat of his car and talking with his girlfriend just prior to the fatal shooting, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. The car was parked near the girlfriend’s home.
“She hears a tapping on the driver-side side window,” Hernandez said. “Shortly after the tapping, she hears several gunshots.”
Bullets struck Mendoza several times in the “upper torso,” the lieutenant said. The woman was not struck by gunfire, but was injured by shattered glass.
No words were exchanged before the shots were fired, he said.
“It happened quickly,” Hernandez said. “He didn’t have any time to react, and definitely didn’t have any time to defend himself.”
The shooter, described only as male, then fled the scene, Hernandez said.
A compact car was seen speeding away, though it was not clear Wednesday whether that car was involved in the shooting, he added.
No further details regarding the circumstances was known Wednesday.
A motive in the slaying was yet to be established.
“We’re still working the leads we have,” Hernandez said. “The detectives have been working diligently on it since it occurred.”
Neither Mendoza nor his girlfriend were believed to have gang ties, Hernandez said. But the area where the shooting occurred is known to be frequented by local gang members.
Friends and family members could not be reached for comment. A manager at an IHOP restaurant in Rosemead said Mendoza had worked there for two years and he was saddened by the shooting. He added that coworkers were rallying to help Mendoza’s family.
Mendoza’s Facebook profiles indicates he was a father.
Photos posted on the profiles show him smiling with neat, short-cropped hair, a mustache and wearing silver-colored cross necklace.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives are assisting El Monte police with the investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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