Rite Aid shooting: Family, friends mourn 36-year-old employee as manhunt for killers continues

GLASSELL PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Friends and family gathered Sunday to mourn the loss of a Rite Aid employee in Glassell Park, who was shot to death while confronting a shoplifter, as authorities continue the search for his killers.

A vigil was held Sunday night in memory of Miguel Penaloza. Investigators say the 36-year-old confronted two suspects Thursday as they attempted to flee with two cases of beer without paying. A brief struggle occurred and one of the suspects pulled out a handgun and fatally shot him.

Former co-workers and Penaloza's family believe inadequate security at the store led to this death.

"They should have had security there. They should have had somebody there. There was nobody there to protect their employees. My brother gave his life for $20 of beer," one woman told Eyewitness News.

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The man who was killed inside a Rite-Aid in Glassell Park late Thursday was a store employee who was shot by a shoplifter that he was confronting, according to friends and officials.

A memorial of flowers, balloons and candles continues to grow outside the store for Penaloza, who worked two jobs to support his parents. Friends say he had just put in his notice to quit the job at Rite Aid before he died.

"He had a big heart, willing to help anybody. When I say anybody, (I mean) anybody. Whether he had... he would find a way to help you," said friend Angie Sanchez.

Authorities on Saturday released surveillance photos of the two men wanted in Penaloza's death.

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Los Angeles police released surveillance photos of two men wanted in the shooting death of a 36-year-old Rite Aid employee in Glassell Park.

The suspects, both 18 to 20 years-old, fled through the parking lot in an unknown direction. One was described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 200 pounds, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, black shorts, and black shoes with white trim. The second suspect was described as 5-feet-8 inches tall and about 145 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a large square print on the back, tan or grey pants, and black shoes.

"I want justice for him. He didn't deserve to be shot over some beer. He didn't deserve it, no one deserves it," Sanchez said.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call LAPD Central Bureau homicide detectives at (213) 996-4180 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

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