Owner killed in Palmdale jewelry store robbery

PALMDALE, Calif. The body of 59-year-old jewelry store owner Mario Tovar was removed from the crime scene Wednesday night, hours after he was shot to death in what appears to be a botched robbery. The Jewelry Mart is located on Palmdale Boulevard and 27th Street.

"The lone suspect inside armed with a handgun, so yeah, we believe it was an attempted robbery. Some time during that, a shooting took place, a confrontation between him and the store owner, and the store owner was shot," said L.A. County Sheriff's Homicide Lt. Liam Gallagher.

Authorities say the shooting happened at 2:15 p.m. There was one other employee in the store who witnessed the suspect fire several gunshots, hitting Tovar in the upper torso. Other witnesses saw the suspect run through the strip-mall parking lot.

Distraught family members tried to cope with their loss. One relative who did not want to give her name claims Tovar had been confronted over the weekend by two young men who stole his gun. They allegedly roughed him up and then threatened to return and kill him.

"The police came they did the report and everything and this happened today," said the relative.

Tovar owned the Jewelry Mart for about a year. He worked for the store's previous owner for about 19 years.

"He was very good, kind person, never had problem with anything, good vibe, good family and I feel so bad about him," said Altaf Manori, the store's former owner.

Manori says the Jewelry Mart has been a target for thieves for years, and that he was robbed on four occasions while he was the owner.

"Only one time there was a guy came with four guns, four guys, and I got a chance, so I shot one guy, yeah, but they didn't take anything that time," said Manori.

Authorities said the suspect is a black man in his 20s, wearing dark clothing and a baseball cap. One man was detained for questioning, but police were not calling him a person of interest or a suspect.

If you have information related to this case, you're asked to call the L.A. County Sheriff's Department at (323) 267-4800.

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