Los Angeles police hope someone will recognize a man seen in a video walking around a South Los Angeles store right before the clerk is shot and killed in a robbery that happened on the night of Sept. 17, leaving a family of five without a mother.
Martha Sanchez, 39, was getting ready to close the Happy Bargain 99 Cent store at 74th Street and Broadway around 8:50 p.m. when a man walked in with a gun, demanded money, then shot her.
The Los Angeles Police Department released surveillance video from store cameras mounted outside the building.
The video shows a man detectives believe is about 6 feet tall, wearing a blue and green jacket, short pants and a baseball cap. One angle shows him walking past the pink building. Another shows the man running out of the store after the fatal shooting, detectives believe.
LAPD Det. Eric Crosson said he thinks the suspect was out walking around about 30 minutes before the robbery. He hopes the video will help refresh memories of those who may have walked by him.
“What would be nice is … people that were out that night go, ‘Oh, I was there that night. I saw that guy. That’s so-and-so,'” he said.
Crosson said it appears Sanchez did everything the robber wanted her to do. She handed over the money, but she was still shot.
“If [the robber] decided that he needed to kill an unarmed woman by herself in a store, I can’t imagine that there’s anybody that he wouldn’t be willing to hurt," Crosson said.
There is one person detectives are calling a “person of interest” who is in custody on an unrelated charge. Crosson hopes the video will help them identity or eliminate that person as a suspect.
Residents of the Florence neighborhood and friends mourned the loss of Martha Sanchez, who many described as a friendly neighborhood face. The mother of five was known to readily give water to parents and children walking to the school just around the corner from the store.
Flowers and candles appeared at the storefront immediately after the fatal shooting, and a few prayer vigils were held.
“I don’t wish this to nobody,” said Juan Arevalo, brother to Sanchez. “If this person is in jail, at least he won’t hurt another family."
Arevalo pleaded for people to watch the video and call police with any information. He said the family is hurting right now. The family lost a brother in Mexico this year.
“We just want a little bit of peace,” Arevalo said. “It won’t bring her back, but it will bring us justice and a little bit of peace."
Donations from the neighborhood poured in to help the family the same week the shooting took place. Crosson said celebrities — including Khloe Kardashian and the rapper “The Game,” as well as record company executive La La Anthony — have donated to a bank account opened for the family.