Votive candles and flowers sat Wednesday outside the South L.A. discount store where Martha Sanchez was shot to death the night before, just two blocks away from a police station. "RIP Martha," a small wreath read.
Authorities said Sanchez, a 39-year-old mother of five, was working at the Happy Bargain discount store about 8:50 p.m Tuesday when a man walked in, robbed the store and shot Sanchez multiple times.
The suspect fled on foot. A customer found Sanchez, authorities said, and called for help. Paramedics took her to an area hospital, where she later died.
Police are still looking for the suspect, but said investigators believe robbery was the motive.
Some who knew Sanchez gathered Wednesday outside the store, located in the 7400 block of Broadway. Many said they were shocked by the crime.
Tina Marie, 34, who lives in Torrance but used to live in the area, said Sanchez's death angered her because it occurred not far from LAPD's 77th Street Station.
"It tells you they're not afraid of the police or anyone," Marie said. "They're heartless and fearless."
She described Sanchez as a kind, helpful woman who was known for her lenience toward customers. If a customer was short on cash, Marie said, Sanchez might let them pay later for items they purchased.
"Oh, my god," Marie said. She shook her head. "Why would they leave her at the store by herself?"
Jasmine Hernandez, 25, of Los Angeles, said she met Sanchez not long after Sanchez was hired as a clerk at the store, about two years ago.
Hernandez, who works up the street, said they would often talk about Sanchez's family. Authorities said Sanchez had five children between the ages of 3 and 19.
"She spoke often of her oldest daughter," Hernandez said. "She was so proud of her because she helped her a lot and was attending college."
Hernandez said that about two weeks ago she was invited by Sanchez to help celebrate her only son's third birthday.
"This is just sad," Hernandez said. "She was a very good friend."