SOUTH LA (CBSLA) — A fast-food employee was shot and killed in South Los Angeles on the job and in front of his son who was also working with him that night.
The incident unfolded just before 11 p.m. Saturday night at the Taco Bell on Avalon and Century Boulevards, when an employee denied the suspect who attempted to purchase food at the drive-thru with counterfeit currency.
When that individual was refused service, the suspect opened fire at the employees in the restaurant multiple times, killing one. Another worker was possibly injured.
The victim who died, Alejandro Garcia, was 41-years-old. He was reportedly working with his 19-year-old son at the time, on his traditional extra-Saturday shift, something he did weekly so he could more capably support his family. The son is the one who initially denied the counterfeit money.
Onlookers could see Garcia's son outside of the restaurant as the initial investigation was underway - visibly distraught, and rightfully so.
"It's so hard for him. I can't imagine seeing your dad get murdered in front of your eyes, and you're standing there and can't do anything about it," said Karina Garcia, the victim's cousin. She continued, noting that Alejandro was loving, hard-working and a very generous man.
"One of the bullets went in, straight to his dad. He was on the other side. Straight in the heart, he died instantly," Garcia detailed to CBS on Sunday evening, "He knew he was dead as soon as he reached over and tried to save him, touch him, and he was gone."
The suspect drove away in an unknown vehicle, and authorities are currently seeking additional information.
Residents in the surrounding area could hear the shots, and after learning about what occurred, they're upset. Breanna Leonard and Quinita Adams, who both live in the neighborhood expressed their concerns for safety. "I can't believe it, that's scary," Adams told CBS reporters. She detailed how her kids were sleeping at the time, but the noise woke their whole household up. "It's heartbreaking. It's very sad, I can't believe that happened. I pray for the family of that person that lost his life."
"It's not safe no where, no more," Leonard followed up. "That's somebody's child. It's over food... oh my gosh. I just don't know," she said, "There's no point in taking somebody's life, over a fake $100 bill."
"I hope they find whoever did that; whoever got shot did not deserve that," Leonard said, "They did not deserve that. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for the family."
As the investigation continues, detectives are working on limited information. However, security cameras at the Taco Bell location should provide some footage, at least of the vehicle involved.
Taco Bell Corporation issued a statement in response to the incident on Sunday afternoon:
"We are shocked and saddened to hear that this happened. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the team member in this difficult time. We understand the owner and operator of this location is working with the local authorities in their investigation and has reached out directly to the affected family to offer support."
Authorities with the Los Angeles Police Department are urging anyone with information to contact them immediately.
Both investigators and the Garcia family are left searching for answers in the wake of this tragedy. "His son is just so distraught right now," Garcia's cousin continued, "I just can't believe that people don't have any heart... to do something like that. He was just such a good person."
As of Monday afternoon police had not released any suspect information or surveillance video surrounding the shooting.
Garcia leaves behind his 19-year-old son, a 16-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. A vigil is planned for Tuesday night.
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