Los Angeles police are looking for a group of teenagers accused of killing a senior Asian American store clerk while stealing items from his Highland Park liquor store last week.
Steven Reyes, 68, who worked at Tony’s Market on Figueroa Street and East Avenue 40, confronted the teens as they tried to steal a case of beer at around 7 p.m., authorities said.
“As he was kind of following them trying to get the product back, one of the individuals took an electric scooter and bashed him in the head,” one of Reyes’ daughters, Nelle, told CBS Los Angeles.
The suspects — described as two males and two females, all aged 15 to 18 — then fled the scene with the case of beer, running eastbound on Figueroa Street.
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Bystanders rushed to Reyes’ aid until paramedics arrived. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died.
Reyes, a Filipino American immigrant, moved to the U.S. in the early 1980’s. He had limited education and worked multiple jobs to support his family.
Prior to his death, Reyes lived with his mother in a studio apartment near Tony’s Market. He had worked at other liquor stores before starting at Tony’s earlier this year.
Reyes’ other daughter, Kaycie, said people have said it was not the first time her father tried to stop shoplifters.
“These people were minors, and they left on foot. With those two things in mind, I don’t think they were strangers to the neighborhood,” Kaycie told the Los Angeles Times. “It doesn’t seem like the first time this happened.”
Nelle, who works as an emergency room nurse, organized a fundraiser on GoFundMe to cover costs of her father’s funeral and help their family.
“I feel like this is something small I can ask from the community,” Nelle told CBS LA. “It’s a tragic, unnecessary and unfortunate event. … My dad’s life was not worth it.”
Reyes, who was divorced, is survived by his mother, four children and one grandchild. A vigil will be held for him today at Tony’s Market at 5 p.m.