Liquor store clerk killed trying to stop alleged shoplifters

A 68-year-old liquor store clerk was fatally wounded Thursday night in Highland Park while trying to thwart shoplifters, police said.

Steven Reyes, a Filipino immigrant who worked at Tony’s Market at Figueroa Street and 40 East Avenue, confronted a group of teenagers who were “trying to steal various items,” police said, around 7 p.m.

Reyes was hit in the head with a scooter and the suspects – described as two teenagers and two teenagers, all between the ages of 15 and 18 – ran away, police said.

TV news showed Good Samaritans trying to help Reyes as he lay on the sidewalk outside the liquor store. He later died in hospital, LAPD officer Norma Eisenman said.

The Los Angeles Police Department had not announced any arrests as of Saturday night but said homicide detectives were investigating.

Reyes’ family said he tried to stop the teenagers from stealing a case of beer.

Reyes divorced with four children, two in the United States and two in the Philippines, said daughter Kaycie Reyes, 36.

She said Reyes lives with his elderly mother in a studio apartment not far from the liquor store where he works. With his earnings he supported his mother and also tried to send money to his family in the Philippines.

She said her father moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines in the early 1980s and had a limited education. He had also made money as a billiards player and handyman, as well as various other jobs over the years.

He played in tournaments at a local pool hall, his daughter said, and when carnival came to town he would come home with a giant stuffed animal after passing the pool table challenges with flying colors.

“My dad killed it every time,” she said. “We always knew exactly where [the stuffed animal] came out.”

She said her father started working at Tony’s Market earlier this year and has previously worked at other liquor stores in Los Angeles.

“People have been telling us this isn’t the first time this has happened — that my dad would try to thwart thieves,” she said.

She said detectives appeared confident they would catch the perpetrators.

“These people were underage and walking,” she said. “Considering those two things, I don’t think they were strangers in the neighborhood. It doesn’t seem like this is the first time this has happened.”

She said the family started a Gofundme page to help pay for her father’s funeral expenses. Liquor store clerk killed trying to stop alleged shoplifters

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