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Gunman Kills Armored Car Guard in Vernon Robbery

January 15, 1999|PETER Y. HONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Brink's armored car guard was fatally shot Thursday morning during a robbery at a Vernon wholesale grocery store, according to Vernon police.

The guard was making a routine pickup inside the JETRO Cash and Carry store in the 2300 block of East 57th Street, near Alameda Street and Slauson Avenue. About 9 a.m., as the guard was about to leave, a man shot him once in the head, said Vernon Police Chief Bruce W. Olson.

The guard died instantly, Olson said. The gunman picked up the moneybag and ran into the parking lot, where an accomplice was waiting. The men, both in their early to mid-20s, escaped in a dark-colored, late 1980s Toyota Corolla, Olson said.

The guard's name was not released pending notification of his family.

A large amount of money and checks were in the bag, Olson said. Ruben Del Valle, manager of the JETRO store, would not disclose the amount, but said most of the store's business is done with checks and credit cards. The store sells groceries and janitorial supplies to small businesses, including convenience stores and restaurants.

The cavernous warehouse store closed after the robbery, and employees were sent home about 11 a.m.

James Hicks, who was buying groceries for his South-Central Los Angeles liquor and grocery store during the robbery, said that he did not hear gunfire, but that he "saw everybody running, and someone said a guy got shot."

Hicks said employees and customers were told to move to the end of the store farthest from the cash register area, where the shooting occurred.

Marven Moss, Brink's Inc.'s director of corporate projects, said the company would release no information about the employee.

"We're in the security business, and anything I tell you might make our people more vulnerable," he said.

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