A cook and married father of five, who worked two jobs to support his family, was allegedly shot and killed when diners became angry about how long it was taking for their food to be prepared, police said.
"They're really heartbroken," said neighbor Jessica Gonzalez, speaking of Raul Lopez's family, KABC reported. "His wife has been crying non-stop. She didn't feel like eating."
A KABC news reporter with the family on Monday night described Lopez's wife, Guadalupe, as sitting quietly, in pain, but concealing it.
It had been only 72 hours since Lopez's family - a 16-year-old son, 7-year-old son and three daughters all under the age of 6 - learned that their father, 38-year-old Raul Lopez, a restaurant cook, was fatally shot by a group of five men allegedly angry over how long it took for their food order to be prepared.
"When they found out they were crying," said 16-year-old Melesio Lopez, told the KABC about his sisters, the youngest 2 years old. "They don't understand."
"He's just out doing an honest day's work, trying to do the right thing," said LAPD Det. James Nuttall of Lopez, his family's sole provider, who worked two jobs to support his family, the LA Times reported.
Police say, before Lopez was shot at Hoagies & Wings restaurant where he worked, two of the suspects made another stop.
Newly released video shows two of the suspects entering Panda Express, a Chinese food restaurant, on Ventura Boulevard at around 10:30 p.m. Friday. But they didn't stay long. The manager told them that the kitchen was already closed.
That's when police say the two men, along with three of their friends, drove a block to Hoagies & Wings, also on Ventura Boulevard, whose kitchen was open and ordered food there, reports CBS Los Angeles.
While waiting for their order, police say that the men became angry with Lopez about how long it was taking for their food to be prepared.
"It started to escalate from there," said LAPD Det. James Nuttall, KTLA reports.
"The longer it takes to get the food, the situation starts to deteriorate," Nuttall added.
Police say the group of men began hurling racial slurs at the restaurant's employees, prompting other customers to leave, the Los Angeles Times says.
Police said Lopez stepped in and tried to defuse the situation. At one point, he picked up a chair to shoo the men out of the restaurant.
Lopez was successful in moving the five men out of the location, according to a statement released by police.
"Once the men were outside, Lopez put down the chair, looked up and saw the suspect remove a handgun from his clothing," the statement continued. "The suspect pointed the handgun and fired striking Lopez in the torso." Investigators say it was a semi-automatic weapon.
Lopez was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:02 a.m.
The persons of interest all fled in a black Cadillac Escalade parked near Vesper and Ventura Boulevard, police say.
Investigators say they do not believe Lopez knew the men.
All suspects are still at large.
A family's plea
Homicide detectives, along with Lopez's family, made a public plea Tuesday for help in tracking down the men.
“Please, I need help," Lopez’s wife, Guadalupe pleaded. "I don’t know what to do.”
“He’s my only dad and I really care about him. He loved his family,” said 16-year-old Melesio, at the press conference. “I just want justice.”
Now Los Angeles Police Department Van Nuys Homicide detectives are asking for your help in bringing justice to a wife and five children now left without a father.
Sherman Oaks Patch reported that on Thursday, July 5, 2012, the LAPD released updated descriptions of the five suspects:
• 6 feet-0 180 pounds, athletic build, in his early 30s;
• 6-feet-2, 300 pounds, long dreadlocks in pony tail, 30 to 35 years old;
• 6-feet-4, 350 pounds, shaved head, gold teeth, late 30s;
• 6-feet-5, 350 to 400 pounds, shoulder-length hair, mid-30s
• 6-feet-4, 300 to 350 pounds, mid-30s.
If you have more information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects involved in the killing of Lopez, please call detectives at (818) 374-0040.
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