South Los Angeles discount store clerk murder suspect named


According to Los Angeles police, 31-year-old Eric Atkinson was already in custody on an unrelated parole violation. He is expected to be re-arrested on Friday and charged with murder with special circumstances in the death of Martha Sanchez.

Sanchez was shot and killed during a robbery on the night of Sept. 17. The 39-year-old mother of five was working alone at Happy Bargain 99 Cents Store in the 7400 block of South Broadway at the time of the incident.

According to investigators, the suspect barged into the store, robbed Sanchez, then shot her multiple times in the torso. Authorities say approximately $200 to $300 was taken from the business. The suspect then fled the store on foot, heading southbound on Broadway. Sanchez was rushed to an area hospital, where she later died.

Police say Atkinson lived only a quarter-mile away from the murder scene. Investigators say surveillance video released last month helped lead to the arrest.

"We, again, could not have come to this conclusion and make this arrest without the community's help and assistance," said Detective Chris Barling with the LAPD Criminal Gang and Homicide Division.

Sanchez's eldest daughter spoke about her mother at a news conference on Friday.

"The way we had our relationship, I know I'll never have that relationship again with anybody," said Gabriella Sanchez. "Knowing my mom and knowing the kind of person she was, I knew she had many people who liked her and who liked who she was."

The hard-working mother was saving up to put Gabriella through college - a dream, now, she will have to put on hold.

"She worked really hard raising her family the right way, working hard and working late at night. Now, that's put on hold because of this coward," said Lt. Jeffery Nolte with the LAPD Criminal Gang and Homicide Division, as he pointed to a booking photo of Atkinson.

Police say Atkinson is a known gang member with a long criminal history. His bail is set at $160,000 and arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

Prosecutors will later decide if they will seek the death penalty.

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