HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Homicide detectives Friday were seeking the public’s help in identifying a man believed to be responsible for the death of a 57-year-old Hollywood man attacked while protecting a child.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Gabriel Ortega was attacked around 9:35 p.m. June 18 inside a McDonald’s restaurant in the 1400 bock of Vine Street, between Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue.
Authorities said Ortega saw a man yelling with his fists clenched while walking toward a 3-year-old child inside the McDonald’s.
Ortega stood in front of the child “to shield him from what appeared to be an imminent attack” and ordered the man to leave the kid alone, police said.
The man then punched Ortega and fled.
Ortega was conscious and coherent when speaking to police after the confrontation.
“He wasn’t knocked out. He was conscious. He was able to articulate to the responding officers what happened,” LAPD detective Steven Katz said. “They did observe some redness to his face, and he said he’d seek his own medical attention.”
Ortega checked himself into a Kaiser Permanente hospital three days later complaining of vomiting and a headache.
He died July 14 as a result of blunt-force trauma, the coroner’s office reported.
Officials have ruled the death a homicide.
Investigators fear they won’t be able to get security camera footage from the McDonald’s because too much time has passed since the attack. They said they’re forced to rely on witnesses.
“We absolutely want to find the individual who did this to Mr. Ortega. From our investigation, Mr. Ortega just seemed to be a good Samaritan trying to prevent a child from being harmed,” Katz said.
Anyone with information regarding the suspect or the crime was urged to contact LAPD’s West Bureau Homicide Detectives at (213) 382-9470 or (877) 527-3247.