An Ortega pharmacy and an Avondale restaurant both fell victim to robberies yesterday, one of which ended fatally for a private contractor who was working overnight. Today police continue their search for the suspect, who is still on the loose.
Meanwhile, businesses in Avondale, Ortega, and Riverside are on high alert, making sure their own employees don't become victims too.
"It's a scary thing," says Kyle Klehm, who tends bar at night for Mossfire Grill in Riverside.
Klehm says he closes up shop with minimal staff, so keeping doors locked and eyes peeled late at night can go a long way in ensuring that the business and its employees stay safe.
"Make sure no one leaves here by themselves at all at any time, kind of the buddy system deal," says Klehm.
Police are going around to businesses in these areas telling them to alert their staff of the robberies, show them the picture of the suspect, and remind them not to take it lightly that there is an armed man on the loose.
Kyle Klehm says he hopes police make an arrest soon, especially given the brazen nature of the crime.
"Someone's just trying to do their job and make some money and somebody comes in there and ends their life. That's a terrible thing. I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy so hopefully they catch him and we don't have to worry anything anymore."
At the Fox Restaurant in Avondale, server Rob O'Steen was waiting tables Monday in the thick of the investigation at Mojo's just a few doors down.
"It was...chaotic and a little intense," he says.
O'Steen tells WOKV employees at the Fox take after hours safety very seriously and there's never someone in the restaurant alone. Servers and cooks do have to come in hours before open to prepare for the breakfast rush and O'Steen says doors are always locked and lights are always on. He says he was even a little more cautious yesterday than usual at his own house.
"Definitely make sure that the doors are locked. Like last night I turned all the porch lights on all the way around the house."
O'Steen says he thinks it's easy to think you live in a bubble and that violent crime can't happen in a tight-knit community like Avondale where everyone knows everyone but that yesterday's incident was a chilling reminder not to let one's guard down.
53-year-old Robert Sutton was shot and killed early Monday morning when an unknown gunman walked in the door of Mojo's No. 4 in Avondale and demanded money. Workers from Ed Lumley's Exhaust Cleaning Service were working overnight in the restaurant when the robbery occurred.
A separate robbery also occurred Monday morning at the CVS Pharmacy on San Juan Avenue in Ortega where an employee was grazed by a bullet. Police are trying to determine whether the two robberies are related and are investigating both incidents as though they're connected.
JSO told WOKV Tuesday that their investigation has led them to conclude that the incidents at Mojo's and CVS Monday are not related to a Westside crime spree that occurred over the weekend.
Police have provided us with a photo of the suspect (left) from CVS surveillance camera footage. You're asked to call JSO at 630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS if you have any information about the unknown man.