Video released in slaying of El Monte fast food worker as family pleads for justice


EL MONTE >> Homicide detectives and distraught family members sought the public’s help Thursday in finding the masked gunman who fatally shot a 25-year-old El Monte man during a failed robbery at the fast food restaurant where he worked.
Juan Manuel Vidal turned 25 less than two weeks before the deadly Oct. 21 shooting at Jack in the Box, 9220 Flair Drive.
He had just graduated pharmacy school and was looking forward to starting a new career and a new life with his fiancee and high school sweetheart, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators and family members.
But his life was cut short when a would-be robber jumped over the restaurant counter where he was working, demanded money from the cash register and immediately fired a gunshot, according to Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The killer remains at large.
Video: Detective Adan Torres discusses the fatal shooting
“He was my life and he’s gone now, and I don’t know why anyone would do this to him,” Vidal’s fiancee, Juliana Sasaki said through tears.
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmugHis mother, Mary Smay, said her son was a kind and loving man and urged anyone with information about the killer to come forward.
“If anybody knows who did this, who took my son from me, you need to turn him in,” she said. “He’s taken my life. He’s taken my son away,” she said.
“He left to work. I sit on the couch and I think he’s going to just come back,” Smay said.
Video: Victim’s mother pleads for help her son’s killer
Vidal’s killer remains at large, and detectives released surveillance video footage of the crime on Thursday in hopes of generating tips from the public.
Vidal was working as a cashier at the restaurant when the gunman entered wearing a mask and brandishing a revolver, Torres said.
The gunman jumped the counter, demanded money, pointed the gun at Vidal and immediately opened fire, officials said.
“It was so quick, he didn’t even have a chance to react,” the detective said.
The would-be robber then jumped back over the counter and fled from the restaurant empty-handed.
The killer got into a waiting getaway car, described only as a dark-colored sedan, which drove away, Torres said. Detectives suspected he may have had an accomplice serving as a getaway driver.
The robber wore some type of mask over the top portion of his face which included a thick fake mustache and a large nose.
He also wore a light-blue long-sleeve T-shirt, khaki cargo shorts and black running shoes and a blue baseball cap with a vinyl or plastic brim.
Vidal grew up in El Monte and attended Arroyo High School, where he met his fiancee, Sasaki said.
He loved classic cars and enjoyed spending time working on his vehicles, she said.
“He was always so kind,” she said. “Everyone loved him. Even when he had nothing, he was always willing to help.”
Having recently graduated school as a pharmacy technician and receiving a job offer, “He was going to quit his job and start planning everything,” the fiancee said. The couple had yet to set a wedding date.
Vidal maintained a close relationship with his mother.
“He would be proud to say I was his mom, just like I was proud to say he was my son,” Smay said. “He was a kind, loving man. But to me, he’s always going to be by boy.”
Anyone with information is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Funds to help Vidal’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.

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PHOTOS [ABOVE] Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, of El Monte (courtesy). [BELOW] Family members and LASD homicide detectives ask the public for help in finding the killer of Juan Vidal on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Staff photo by Brian Day)

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Two men charged with murder in fatal shooting of Covina man during alleged robbery

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COVINA >> A man previously arrested but released without charges in the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old Covina man during a robbery in Covina was re-arrested Wednesday after prosecutors filed a murder charge against him, authorities said.
Christopher Alexander Avila, 20, of Covina is accused of the Aug. 13 fatal shooting of 20-year-old Isaac Urena of Covina in the parking lot of Clearman’s North Woods Inn, at San Bernardino Road and Azusa Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
He joins co-defendant Adam David Hernandez, 21, of Covina behind bars as both await trial.
Both suspects were arrested the day after the killing.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Hernandez with being an accessory to murder, but released Avila due to insufficient evidence and requested further investigation.
Detectives continued gather clues and run forensic tests, developed new information and presented it to prosecutors, Peterson said.
“Based on the new evidence, The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a murder charge (Wednesday) against Christopher Avila and amended the charge against Adam Hernandez to include murder,” according to Peterson.
Detectives found and arrested Avila at his home about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Peterson said.
Investigators also arrested a third suspect at Avila’s home on suspicion of acting as an accessory to the slaying. Further details regarding that arrest were not available Wednesday night.
Hernandez has remained in custody since his arrest in August.
Both defendants were being held without bail.
The deadly shooting took place shortly before noon on Aug. 13 after the victim, Urena, was driven by a friend to the Clearman’s parking lot in order to meet a person who had agreed to buy jewelry Urena was offering for sale on the online marketplace OfferUp.com, police said.
The transaction turned into a robbery, which escalated into a shooting, police said. Avila allegedly produced a gun and shot Urena. Hernandez is accused of driving the car used in the crime.
Following the gunfire, Urena’s friend drove across the city border to the parking lot of Faith Community Church in West Covina, where paramedics ultimately pronounced Urena dead, officials said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-384-5628. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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PHOTOS: [TOP} – BOOKING PHOTOS of Christopher Avila (left) and Adam Hernandez (right) courtesy of the Covina Police Deparmtent. [BELOW] – Police investigate outside the Clearman’s North Woods Inn parking lot in Covina where a 20-year-old Covina man was fatally shot on Saturday August 13, 2016. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

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El Monte man shot to death during failed restaurant robbery identified

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EL MONTE >> Authorities on Wednesday formally identified an El Monte man shot to death in a botched robbery at a fast food restaurant over the weekend as detectives continue gathering clues in the senseless killing.
Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center less than 30 minutes after the shooting, which took place about 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Jack in the Box restaurant where he worked at 9220 Flair Drive, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operation at the Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The deadly failed robbery occurred very quickly, Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“It was just seconds. (The killer) was in and out,” he said.
It did not appear Vidal put up any resistance to the robbery attempt, the lieutenant said. “I don’t even think he had time.”
The gunman entered the business, jumped over the counter to the employee are of the store, brandished a handgun and announced that he was robbing the store, Rosson said.
Almost immediately, he pulled the trigger of his gun, mortally wounding Vidal.
Rosson said the gunman, who wore a Halloween mask, then fled from the restaurant empty-handed.
The restaurant sits just a few hundred yards from onramps to the 10 Freeway.
The gunman was believed to have gotten into a getaway car, but investigators were continuing to sort out conflicting descriptions of the vehicle, Rosson said.
ar-161029811Detectives were also sifting through “hours and hours” of surveillance camera footage from the restaurant as well as other nearby businesses in hopes of generating a suspect description, he said.
An excerpt from surveillance footage depicting the suspect was expected to be released by investigators during a press conference on Thursday.
Two other employees were working with Vidal at the time of the fatal shooting, Rosson said. One of them was on break and outside the building. The position of the other employee within the store was unclear.
The customer dining area inside the restaurant was empty when the botched robbery and fatal shooting took place.
Detectives suspected the fatal shooting was committed by a panicked or possibly intoxicated robber, and there was no indication that Vidal was specifically targeted, Rosson said.
Vidal turned 25 less than two weeks before the fatal shooting.
Vidal, “had a promising future,” according to Deputy Lillian Peck of the sheriff’s Information Bureau. He was engaged to be married and had recently graduated as a pharmacy technician at the time of his slaying.
He was a Volkswagen enthusiast and member of the DubFolks SoCal car club, according to the organizations Facebook page, where fellow members memorialized him and organized fundraisers to help his family. A car wash is planned for 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at outside Carl’s Jr., 18237 Colima Road in Rowland Heights. A meet-up and memorial ride are planned for noon on Saturday,. starting at Cal State Los Angeles’s Parking Structure C.
A fund to help his family with services has been established online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Fast food worker shot to death during botched robbery in El Monte

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EL MONTE >> A masked gunman shot and killed a 25-year-old fast food worker during what was believed to be a botched robbery at an El Monte Jack in the Box restaurant late Friday, authorities said.
The deadly shooting took place about 7:30 p.m. at the chain restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting El Monte police in the investigation.
The suspect, who fled empty-handed following the apparent robbery attempt, remained at large Saturday.
1023_nws_sgt-l-restaurant2Authorities withheld the identity of the victim pending positive identification and notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
“An armed, masked male entered the business and immediately jumped over the front service counter, where the victim was standing, in an apparent armed robbery attempt,” Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“The suspect turned toward the victim and fired at least one shot, which struck the victim in the upper torso. The suspect immediately jumped back over the counter and fled the location,” Rouzan said.
The gunman was last seen running north from the restaurant. No suspect description was available.
El Monte police arrived first on the scene and administered first aid before paramedics took over treatment, officials said. The wounded man was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A sign affixed to the door of the restaurant where the victim worked on Saturday indicated the businesses would be closed until Monday.
“RIP Juan. 2 Corinthians 5:8. Home with Jesus,” was handwritten on the sign.
The King James Version of the scripture reads, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Diamond Bar couple fatally stabbed inside their home identified

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DIAMOND BAR >> Coroner’s officials have identified a married couple found stabbed to death in their Diamond Bar home on Thursday as homicide detectives continued seeking their killer or killers.
Cheng Long Wang, 60, and his wife Mei Chu Chung, 57, died in the double stabbing at the couple’s home in the 3300 block of Bent Twig Lane, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said. Autopsies were pending.
One of the couple’s children, who is away at college, asked a friend to check on his parents after not hearing from them for a while, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The friend went to the home, discovered the bodies and called 911, officials said.
Wand and Chung were found in separate rooms of the home, and both had been stabbed multiple times, Corina said. There were signs of a struggle inside the home.
There were no obvious signs of robbery, however investigators were still working to determine whether anything was missing from the home.
A motive in the double-homicide was unknown, and the weapon used in the killings has not been found, officials said.
Neighbors said the couple had lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade. Neighbor Zeng Liao said Wang as a retired doctor of Chinese medicine, and Chung was an art teacher.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tipsters can call L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
— Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

PHOTO by Watchara Phomicinda

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DEVELOPING: Man fatally shot during possible restaurant robbery in El Monte


EL MONTE >> A man died after being shot during what was initially reported as a robbery at an El Monte fast food restaurant on Friday night, authorities said.
The fatal shooting was first reported as a robbery with a person down just before 8 p.m. at a Jack in the Box restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting El Monte police in the homicide investigation.
A victim, described only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, Deputy Jeffrey Gordon of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
No suspects were in custody, and no further details were available as detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau continued their investigation late Friday, officials said.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Couple found stabbed to death inside Diamond Bar home

 


DIAMOND BAR >> Detectives are investigating the deaths of a man and woman whose bodies were discovered inside their Diamond Bar home early Thursday as a possible double-homicide, officials said.
The deaths, initially reported by sheriff’s officials as stabbings, were reported just before 9:45 a.m. at a home in the 3300 block of Bent Twig Lane, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Both the man and woman, described as an Asian couple in their 50s or 60s, were pronounced dead at the scene, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Coroner’s officials had yet to identify the man and woman.
One of the couple’s children, who are away at college, became concerned after not hearing from the couple for a while, the lieutenant said.
The child contacted a friend and asked the friend to check on the man and woman, Corina said. It was then that the friend discovered the bodies.
“We’re treating it as (double-) murder right now. It doesn’t look like a murder-suicide,” Corina said. “That’s the way we’re going to treat it until we learn otherwise.”
But he added that the investigation remained in its early stages, and nothing had been ruled out.
Though initially described by officials as a double-stabbing, Corina said he could not confirm how the couple died.
“It certainly doesn’t look like a natural death or deaths,” he said. “We don’t know the why and how of how they were killed.”
There were no signs the home had been ransacked.
“It doesn’t appear to be robbery or burglary,” Corina said.
Detectives continued speaking with neighbors and family members to learn about the couple and determine when they were last been seen alive, he added.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tipsters can call L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
— Staff writers Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day contributed to this report.

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2 suspects arrested in West Adams shooting that left 3 dead, 12 wounded

A body is removed by the Los Angeles County coroner staff after three people were killed during a shooting after a dispute at a pop-up Jamaican restaurant in Los Angeles on October 15, 2016 Three people were killed and at least a dozen more injured, police said Saturday. One person has been arrested and police have launched a manhunt for another in connection with the deadly incident in West Adams, in the southwestern part of the metro area, said spokesman Lieutenant Chuck Springer.   / AFP / Mark RALSTON        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

A body is removed by the Los Angeles County coroner staff after three people were killed during a shooting after a dispute at a pop-up Jamaican restaurant in Los Angeles on October 15, 2016 Three people were killed and at least a dozen more injured, police said Saturday. One person has been arrested and police have launched a manhunt for another in connection with the deadly incident in West Adams, in the southwestern part of the metro area, said spokesman Lieutenant Chuck Springer. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Police on Sunday announced the arrests of two in connection with a shoot-out at a home operating as a makeshift Jamaican restaurant that left three people dead and 12 others wounded in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles early Saturday.
Mowayne McKay, 33, and Deigo Reid, 25, both Jamaican nationals, were booked on suspicion of murder Saturday morning, according to Los Angeles Police Department officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
They’re accused of being involved in Saturday’s 12:30 a.m. shooting that sent a barrage of bullets flying through the crowded home in the 2900 block of Rimpau Street, striking 15 people in all, LAPD officials said in a written statement.
Both McKay and Reid were initially arrested in the hours immediately following the shooting, but were not formally booked until Sunday morning, records show.
Information regarding the suspects’ specific alleged roles in the complex shooting were unclear, and information regarding where and how they were arrested was not available.
The identities of the three people who died in the shooting were not released Sunday pending notification of their families, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials said.
About 50 people were at the makeshift restaurant prior to the gunfire, officials said.
“A dispute broke out between one male individual and at least two other males, one of whom produced a handgun and shot the male individual,” according to the LAPD statement.
“Immediately following the shooting of this one individual, several other shots were fired indiscriminately in the crowd, including some that appeared to be ‘return’ fire from other party-goers in the direction of the suspects,” the statement said. “The initial shooter and at least one other associate, who is also believed to have fired in the crowd, fled the scene on foot.”
Nine men and six women were wounded. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics pronounced three of the victims dead at the scene.
The injuries suffered by the 12 survivors ranged from minor to severe, police said.
“Currently, one male victim is in extremely critical condition, while most of the other victims have been released from their local hospitals,” the statement said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPS Criminal Gang Homicide detectives David Dilkes or Isidro Soto at 323-786-5110. During non-business hours or weekends, the LAPD can be reached at 877-527-3247. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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One man killed, another wounded in Norwalk shooting


NORWALK >> A man died and another suffered serious injuries in a shooting in a Norwalk residential neighborhood early Saturday morning, authorities said.
Few details were initially available regarding the deadly shooting, which took place just before 2:30 a.m. in the 12000 block of Molette Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Detectives have learned that Norwalk Station Deputies responded to a shots fired call,” according to the statement. “Upon arriving, two male Hispanic adults were found lying in the street suffering from gunshot wounds to their upper torsos.”
Paramedics took both wounded men to a hospital, officials said. One of the victims, who had been shot multiple times, soon succumbed to his injuries.
His identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of family, coroner’s officials said.
The second victim, who suffered a single gunshot wound, was listed in “serious” condition.
“There is no suspect information, nor any additional information at this time,” the statement said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man sentenced for Monterey Park pizza parlor murder


MONTEREY PARK >> A Bakersfield man received a sentence of more than 16 years in state prison Thursday for stabbing another man 15 times, killing, at a Monterey Park pizza parlor four years ago, officials said.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury in Burbank convicted Jose De Jesus Ruiz, also known as Jose De Jesus Salas, 26, in July of second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2012, stabbing death of 25-year-old Patrick Raymond Ortega at Shakey’s, 1955 S. Atlantic Blvd. The jury also found true the special allegation that Ruiz personally used a knife in the crime.
Judge Michael Carter sentenced Ruiz to 16 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The stabbing took place shortly after 7 p.m. as Ruiz was gathered at the restaurant with members of a youth football organization.
He became involved in a dispute with Ortega, who witnesses testified was being “disruptive” inside the pizza parlor while dining with friends, according to Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson, who prosecuted the case.
Ruiz briefly left the restaurant before returning and stabbing Ortega 15 times, Swanson said.
Ruiz was found hiding in his car several hours later and arrested, officials said. .
Second-degree murder is defined in California as the unlawful killing of another with malice, but without deliberation or premeditation.
If convicted of first-degree murder — a murder deemed deliberate, premeditated and with malice — Ruiz could have faced a maximum sentence of 26 years to life behind bars.

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