Police release images of suspects in Rite Aid employee killing


The Los Angeles Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying two suspects wanted in connection with the killing of a Rite Aid employee this week in Glassell Park.

The employee, identified by police as 36-year-old Miguel Penaloza, confronted two men when they attempted to leave the store with two beer cases without paying, according to an LAPD statement. After a brief struggle over the beer, one of the men allegedly shot and killed Penaloza, police said. Penaloza died at the store.

The two suspects fled the store and ran through the parking lot, but were caught on video inside the store. On Saturday morning, LAPD released video images of the two men.

Police described the suspect who allegedly fired a gun at Penaloza as a man between 18 and 20 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, black shorts and black shoes with white trim.

The second suspect was described as a man, also between 18 and 20 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 145 pounds. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a large square print on the back side, tan or gray pants and black shoes.

As police continue to look for the suspects, employee union UCFW 770 said employees have been expressing concerns about the store’s safety issues for months.

“His death should not have happened,” the union said in a statement. “For several months, [union] members have highlighted safety issues at this store… Rite Aid has refused, in store after store, to provide adequate professional security for its employees.”

In interviews with media, former closing supervisor David Cruz also expressed concerns about the store. Cruz told news outlets that “beer runs” were not uncommon in that store and that sometimes a lack of employees made it hard to deal with these issues.

“We always had people coming in [to] steal liquor,” Cruz told ABC-TV. “Other guests would see they’d run out with the merchandise and they’d be like, ‘Well if they did it, why can’t we?’ It was a huge security issue.”

The UCFW 770 released a list of demands for the store. They are asking the chain to provide professional security guards at locations where workers are at risk, provide sufficient staffing to mitigate theft, and establish a workplace safety committee to monitor safety issues, among other demands.

A Rite Aid spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the safety issues.

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