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Merchants React to Slaying

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Three years ago, restaurant owner Isabel Guzman, 30, was shot to death by a drunken patron wielding two pistols.

Two years later, Mirna Regollar, a 25-year-old mother of two, was fatally shot by would-be robbers while tending her family convenience store.

And Saturday night, clothing store owner Mario Leovardo Lizarraga, 41, was shot twice in the head and left to die following an apparent robbery.

The killings of three Main Street shopkeepers in three years has left a few downtown merchants shaken and concerned about their safety.

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At 5 de Mayo Jewelry, across the street from Lizarraga’s store, Monica Alvarez was keeping her older sister company at the family’s shop Monday afternoon. She said her sister was afraid to be alone in the store.

“We’re being more cautious here,” said Monica, 15. “It’s very scary around here.”

Next door, Gloria Hernandez, a 39-year-old seamstress who makes First Communion dresses for local girls, said she now fears for her own life. “If it happened to them,” she said, “it could happen to me.”

But for the most part, downtown merchants said that the weekend’s violence didn’t scare them. Some noted that they had already increased security at their shops.

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Steve Elliott, owner of El Paso Department Store, said he installed a surveillance camera and stopped filling his display windows with merchandise after he was hit by burglars seven years ago.

“I certainly don’t feel unsafe in this town,” he said.

Elliott was working late the night of Lizarraga’s killing and saw his light on as he headed home. He cringed at the thought that he might have spared Lizarraga’s life if he had stopped to talk.

“It’s unfortunate that night that I didn’t look in,” he said.


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