Two Men Sought in Shootings at Market

From a Times Staff Writer

Police are seeking the public's help in finding two suspects, one of whom shot a 3-year-old boy and an off-duty sheriff's deputy during a market robbery in East Los Angeles.

The deputy, Efren Contreras, 30, was shot in the arm, suffered several broken bones and needed surgery. The boy was shot in the buttocks and underwent surgery. Both have been released from the hospital.

The incident occurred on June 8 about 1 p.m., when the two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, entered the Top Valu Market in the 3400 block of Whittier Boulevard and demanded money from a cashier. After the cashier emptied his register, the robbers approached a female cashier and demanded money.

"The male cashier yelled, 'Don't hurt her!' " said Los Angeles Police Det. Otis Marlow. "They took it as an insult, and both of them started beating him."

Contreras, in street clothes, tried to go to the cashier's aid.

"They didn't know he was a deputy, but I think they thought he was someone in authority," Marlow said.

One suspect fired several rounds at the deputy. He then fired once at the male cashier, missing and striking the boy, who was in the store with his mother.

The robbers were seen getting into what a witness believes was a white Nissan Pathfinder driven by a third person.

"This was unprovoked violence," Marlow said. "We'd like to get these guys in custody before they hurt someone else."

Investigators asked that anyone with information call Marlow or Det. Wally Tennelle at LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division, (213) 485-2531.

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