LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Police on Saturday released surveillance photos of two suspects wanted in the shooting death of a 36-year-old Rite Aid employee in Glassell Park who was killed while battling suspected shoplifters.
Police intervened at 4044 Eagle Rock Boulevard near Verdugo Road and the Glendale Freeway (2) at 8:51 p.m. Thursday and found a man with gunshot wounds, according to Los Angeles Police Department officer William Cooper.
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Police said the two suspects entered Rite Aid and walked straight to the beer stall and each took a case of beer. Employee Miguel Penaloza confronted the suspects as they tried to escape without paying. A brief scuffle ensued and one of the suspects pulled out a handgun and shot Penaloza.
The suspects, both aged 18 to 20, fled through the parking lot in an unknown direction. One was described as being 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing around 200 pounds, wearing a gray hoodie, black shorts and black shoes with white trims. The second suspect was described as being 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing around 145 pounds, wearing a black hoodie with a large square print on the back, beige or gray pants and black shoes.
Rite Aid was closed on Saturday and is expected to remain closed until at least Monday as employees mourned their coworker.
“The workers suffered a lot of trauma related to this incident,” said Kathy Finn, secretary-treasurer of UFCW 770. She added that employees are receiving grief counseling.
The union accuses Rite Aid of failing to provide adequate security to employees in its stores.
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“No one should have to fear for their life while shopping or working in a retail store. Rite Aid has refused, store after store, to provide adequate job security for its employees. Even after death threats and a police investigation took place in this store, the company put profit before safety and denied the safety of its employees, ”according to UFCW 770 statement released Friday.
Rite Aid’s head office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Finn said the company had told workers more security would be added to the Glassell Park store in the future, but lamented it was too late to bring Penaloza back.
Finn said union members who work at Rite Aid and similar stores report more violent incidents and fear and insecurity of being at work in the past two years.
“I think pharmacies in general, over time, have become targets because they have limited staff and service security,” she said.
LAPD’s northeast station urged anyone with information about the shooting to call them at 323-561-3211.
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