A fruit vendor was shot to death during an attempted robbery in the Gardena area Thursday evening, and authorities are looking for two men in connection with the fatal encounter.
The incident occurred about 5:50 p.m. near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue and Main Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The area is near Gardena and West Rancho Dominguez.
Responding deputies found the victim lying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to the chest.
He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, officials said. Authorities described him as being in his 30s.
“Based on preliminary information, investigators learned the victim was a local fruit vendor who was the victim of an attempted robbery,” Sheriff’s Department officials detailed in a press release.
Authorities originally said they were looking for two men and a woman, but later indicated two Black men are outstanding. The weapon used in the killing has not been recovered.
Frequent customers said the shooting occurred where the victim frequently set up on the sidewalk.
Fellow street vendor Irene Romero said she saw the victim in passing nearly every day for several years.
She described him as a family man who sometimes brought his daughter with him to work.
“We just work, we don’t do nothing bad,” Romero said. “So why did they do that to him?”
At a vigil on Friday, those close to the vendor identified him as Severino Gutierrez Valez, 34, or to some, he was just “Elias the Fruit Vendor on Rosecrans.”
A frequent customer named Robert also emphasized Valez’s commitment to family.
“I knew him and his wife and his daughter. He just worked really hard for them … She was daddy’s little girl,” Robert said.
Friend Rigo Sanchez mourned the loss.
“It’s a lot. He was my best friend,” Sanchez said.
Anyone with information about the shooting can can the Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau at 323-890-5500.