The shooting death of a Los Feliz gas station attendant during an early morning robbery Tuesday left co-workers and neighbors shaken in this upscale neighborhood near the gateway to the Greek Theater and Griffith Observatory.
"It is shocking," said Benoit Hecquet, who lives near the Chevron gas station at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Los Feliz Boulevard. "I remember a few gunshots a few years ago, but nothing so terrible."
Authorities have yet to identify the victim, but Hecquet and co-workers described him as a native of Bangladesh who worked the overnight shift to earn money for his family and put himself through graduate school.
"He was always polite, talkative. And he even asked about how my son was doing," said Hecquet, who said he would sometimes buy cigarettes at the station.
The shooting occurred about 3:30 a.m. when a man entered the Chevron station and purchased an item, said LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar. The man later returned to the counter, produced a handgun and demanded money, she said.
"The clerk was cooperating when the man shot him," Aguilar said. The gunman then reached over the counter and grabbed the entire cash drawer and ran, Aguilar said.
The suspect fled in a light-colored car. The wounded clerk was able to call 911 and was rushed to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.
On Tuesday, local residents stopped to hug members of the staff, who stood beside a cordon of yellow police tape outside the station.
Co-workers said the victim was an MBA student who worked nights while studying.
"I am sure scenarios like these happen, but I am heartbroken," said Carlos Francisco. "He was a dreamer. Work by night, study by day to make himself better."
The popular filling station remained closed for much of the day Tuesday as detectives and crime scene technicians combed the scene for clues. Forensic experts were also preparing to examine video from 32 surveillance cameras.
The victim, who was in his 20s, only recently began working at the gas station, Francisco said.
"He was the only son, and he sent money home to his family," Francisco added.
Another co-worker, who asked not to be named, said the station never gets any trouble, apart from the occasional drunk.
"This is baddest thing that has ever happened here," he said. "This is a neighborhood of more than million-dollar homes."
1:40 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the victim.
12:47 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from a resident and from coworkers of the victim.
10:37 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details of the shooting and the suspect's car.