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$25,000 Reward Offered in Killing at Grocery Store

November 02, 2001|DAVID PIERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police announced a $25,000 reward Thursday for help in finding the four gang members who shot a Mission Hills man to death inside a supermarket.

Melisio Martinez, 27, was killed at a Ralphs grocery store in Granada Hills on Sept. 8 by four men who asked him if he was affiliated with a gang, said Det. Orlando Martinez of the Los Angeles Police Department.

"All our leads have come to a dead end," he said. "We are hoping that someone from the public will help us out with information."

The victim, who was not a gang member, argued with the suspects just before he was shot, Martinez said. The victim was accompanied by his wife and two brothers.

"The victim was not wearing a shirt and had a tattoo along his chest," Det. Martinez said. "That's what prompted them to ask if he was gang-affiliated."

The victim's tattoo depicted a Spanish message of love for his mother, police said.

A surveillance camera inside the store and more than a dozen witnesses provided enough information to develop sketches of two of the four suspects.

The first was described as a tattooed 25- to 30-year-old Latino, about 5 feet 7 and 170 to 180 pounds. The second suspect was described as a Latino of similar age, about 5 feet 6 and 180 to 190 pounds. Police did not know who fired the gun.

The victim's wife quit her job recently because of depression over her husband's death, Det. Martinez said.

Police said anyone with information should call Devonshire Division detectives at (818) 756-8291.

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