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|$50,000 Reward Offered In Cook's Murder|
|Written by Alex Garcia Sun Contributing Writer|
|Thursday, 26 July 2012 05:04|
Father of Five was Killed Inside Sherman Oaks Business
Guadalupe Gomez and her five kids, Zaira, 2; Erick, 7; Melecio, 16; Violeta, 4 and Celeste, 6. The family is having economic problems because the father, Raul Lopez, was the main earner.
More than a month after a cook was gunned down at a Sherman Oaks murder and with no new leads about the attackers, authorities this week announced a $50,000 reward for information that helps catch the suspects.
Raul Lopez, a 38-year-old father of five, was killed at the Hoagies and Wings restaurant along the 14600 block of Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks on Friday, June 29th.
Authorities say the incident took place around 11 p.m., when five African American men, who police described as "rowdy" and "rough housing", went into the restaurant as it was about to close. The suspects reportedly became upset over the wait for their food order. Reports indicate that the men yelled racial slurs at Lopez, who picked up a chair and escorted the men out of the restaurant. When Lopez turned his back to resume his work, one of the men fired a semi-automatic weapon at his torso, according to police. Lopez was transported to a local hospital where a short time later died from his injuries.
Police described the shooter as a short-haired African American man in his late 20s or early 30s standing about 6-feet tall and weighing approximately 180 pounds.
A life of sacrifice
Guadalupe Gomez, Lopez's widow, said her husband came to the U.S. in 1996, leaving her and their oldest son, Melecio (now 16) behind. Lopez began working in a restaurant as part of the cleaning crew, slowly going up the ranks until becoming a cook. In 2004, Lopez brought his wife and son to the United States.
"When we got here, he bought me a toy motorcycle and he would take me to Griffith Park to ride the horses. He played with me a lot," remembered Melecio during a recent press conference.
Here in the United States, the couple had four more children: Erick, 7; Celeste, 6; Violeta, 4 and little Zaira, 2.
"He was a good father. He would kiss and hug all of the children. He had a lot of patience with them," Gomez described the way her husband behaved with the youngsters.
Two weeks after his murder, Lopez' body was flown to his native Oaxaca, Mexico while his widow and children, all between 2 and 16-years-old continue to struggle, both emotionally and economically.
Lopez, who had lived in the United States for 16 years, worked two jobs and was the sole provider for the family.
The business owner, Akida Mashaka, said they would place donation boxes in their restaurants to help the family, that has also been receiving help from a lawyer trying to get them worker's compensation over the murder of their loved one at his place of employement.
"Currently, we are working with Raul Lopez's family to set up a memorial fund in his honor. Due to this senseless tragedy, Raul leaves behind his wife Guadalupe and five children. We will be providing donation boxes at the Sherman Oaks and La Cienega Blvd. locations for those who would like to help Raul's family," said Mashaka in a statement.
But the debt keeps piling up. Gomez said she had to borrow money to pay the rent for their apartment for July and August. The family has also been getting food donations from family and friends, but it's simply not enough to cover all the expenses.
Aside from that, there is the problem of knowing Lopez' killer is still out there. Both the family and authorities are hoping the $50,000 reward generates more leads and helps catch whoever killed Lopez.
"We lost our dad and we can't replace him 'cause he's the only one," said Melecio.
"We're just wanting justice," Melecio Lopez said. "Please help us, and please call (police), and don't be afraid to try and say who it was. It could happen to anyone, if they're out there. Knowing that they're capable of doing this, we don't know if they might do it again."
Anyone with information was urged to call Van Nuys homicide detectives at (818) 374-9500.
These two men are part of the five that came to Hoagies and Wings restaurant in Sherman Oaks the night Raul Lopez was shot. The men yelled racial insults to the cook before the altercation that led to his death. Police are still looking for them.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 05:26|