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Relatives of slain store clerk plead for help in catching killer

Martha Sanchez, who has five children, was working at a discount store in South Los Angeles when a man robbed the store and shot her multiple times.

September 18, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz and Ruben Vives
  • Area resident Elsa Cabrera, 67, lights a candle at a makeshift memorial in front of the store where clerk Martha Sanchez, a 39-year-old mother of five, was fatally shot Tuesday night.
Area resident Elsa Cabrera, 67, lights a candle at a makeshift memorial… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Relatives of a 39-year-old mother who was slain in a robbery in South Los Angeles made a tearful plea Wednesday afternoon for the public's help in catching the killer.

Martha Sanchez, who has five children, was working at a discount store about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday when a man walked in, robbed the store and shot her multiple times, authorities said. The attacker ran away.

The slaying, which one detective described as one of the worst he has seen, was blocks from the Los Angeles Police Department's 77th Street Station.

At an afternoon news conference, family members said there wasn't anything that Sanchez wouldn't do for her children, including working alone at night in a neighborhood that has seen its share of violence.

Daughter Gabriela Sanchez, 18, fought back tears as she recalled her mother urging her children to focus on school so they could make a better life for themselves.

"She was my role model. She was my best friend," Gabriela said of her mother. "She was everything to me. And now she's gone."

Eric Crosson, a detective with the LAPD's Criminal Gang Homicide Division, said investigators have downloaded hours of video, which they are reviewing. He said the gunman appears to be about 30.

Police said Martha Sanchez was alone in the Happy Bargain discount store in the Florence neighborhood when the gunman walked in. When asked how much was taken from the store, Crosson replied: "It's a 99-cent store. How much could it possibly be?"


FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave Sanchez's first name as Maria instead of Martha.

A customer found the mortally wounded Sanchez and called for help, police said. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she died.

People who knew Sanchez gathered Wednesday outside the small store. They remembered her as kind and helpful.

"This is just sad," said Jasmine Hernandez, 25, who met Sanchez after she was hired about two years ago. "She was a very good friend."

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

ruben.vives@latimes.com

Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez contributed to this report.

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