SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES - Friends and family are mourning a young security guard who was stabbed to death in Sylmar, allegedly by a transient who was trying to steal beer.
A handwritten note and a security badge are placed on the sidewalk where Joe Lopez was stabbed to death.
Lopez patrolled a shopping center on Glenoaks Boulevard in Sylmar.
On Sunday, when a man described as a transient walked out of the Food 4 Less without paying for his beer, Lopez followed him.
There was a confrontation on the sidewalk. Police say the suspect stabbed Lopez, killing him.
After the stabbing, the suspect ran into a house across the street, but officers were able to take him into custody.
The suspect has been identified as Santiago Madrigal, 24. He is being held on $2 million bail.
Lopez had been working for the security company for about two years but had only transferred to the shopping center location about three weeks ago.
Family members said Lopez was working to save money to buy a ring and propose to his girlfriend.
"Very hard-working guy," his cousin, Moises Tagle, said. "I'm just shocked to find out that this is the way somebody can get their life ended - over some beer."
They said he also loved being a security guard and focused on his future.
His sister, Leslie Lopez Tagle, said she struggled to comprehend the loss of her brother.
"He had his mind set. 'I'm going to go to work because I want to do this in the future. I want to save up money to get married. I want to save money to get a house. I want to save money to help my mom, my brothers,'" she said.
His family said all they want is justice from the person who killed him.
"My brother was just trying to do his job and it turned into a murder," Leslie said.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family pay for his funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, you can do so by going to gofundme.com/joelopeztagle.