SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A South Los Angeles community is grieving over the loss of a food stand owner fatally shot Friday night.
Police say 30-year-old Alvaro Mata-Rico of Bell Gardens was killed on East 51st Street and McKinley Avenue just after 11 p.m.
The married father of two had been selling tacos at the intersection for almost eight years.
Residents still can’t believe he’s gone, and remember Mata-Rico as a generous man and a fixture in the neighborhood.
“If people didn’t have enough money, he would let them slide … ” said one woman.
“I am used to hearing him chop on the chopping board at night,” another woman added. “And so for me not to hear that any more, it’s really disturbing.”
Police believe robbery was a motive. They say less than $100 was taken.
“This was a gentleman who was out there on a street corner trying to make a living for his family, and [he] became a victim of circumstances. Obviously, [it’s] a very tragic incident,” an LAPD spokesperson said.
According to investigators, another taco vendor set up about a mile away on Slauson and Holmes avenues was robbed at gunpoint about 15 minutes before Mata-Rico was attacked. The victim of the first incident survived after shots were fired near his feet, police said.
Investigators believe the attacks are related.
Police are searching for at least two suspects who may have fled in a red compact vehicle, according to the LAPD spokesperson.