EL SERENO (CBSLA.com) — Police say two men walked into a mini-mart Friday to rob the place when things went terribly awry.
About 11:15 a.m., the men, both believed to be gang members, walked into the store near the intersection of Alhambra and Hollister avenues in El Sereno, LAPD detective Michael Zolezzi said.
One man was wielding a rifle and the other toting a machete.
As they attempted to rob the store, the man with the firearm got into a struggle with someone inside.
The robber’s rifle accidentally went off, firing a single bullet into his accomplice’s upper body. He died at the scene.
It’s unclear if the first man was the one to fire the rifle.
Neftali Saravia, who owns the tire shop next to the liquor store, said his neighbor who runs the mini-mart walked out, covered in blood, with a stunned look on his face.
“But it wasn’t his blood, though. It was the perp’s that got shot,” Saravia said.
The man with the rifle fled and was chased by two customers from Saravia’s tire shop and a street vendor. They caught and held the man until police arrived. It was unclear if he had made off with any money.
“We chased after the suspect, who shot at his accomplice, and me and my husband grabbed him, and talked him into coming back into the store,” a woman who asked not to be identified told CBS2/KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper. “We weren’t going to let him go. I told him, ‘It’s better to just turn yourself in.'”
The robber allegedly told the woman it was his friend’s idea to rob the store and that he didn’t want to do it alone.
Saravia, like many business owners in the area, are friends with the mini-mart’s owner. He said the owner and his wife were inside at the time of the robbery. Neither of them suffered serious injuries.
“Just to see him, like, experience that, it’s difficult,” the neighbor said.
Police haven’t discussed additional details about the robbery. There’s a security camera inside the store but investigators aren’t releasing it at this time.