‘A Very Nice Guy’ Is Gunned Down at Work

Times Staff Writers

On one of his recent trips to the Philippines to visit his father, Joseph Molina learned Tagalog with remarkable speed. After three months in Manila, he came home to Whittier nearly fluent, his mother said Sunday.

“He made friends there that didn’t know English, so he had to pick it up,” said Josephine Molina. “He had that drive to learn.”

Friendliness and ambition were traits Molina had in abundance, people who knew him said, after the 22-year-old Pasadena City College student was shot and killed in an armed robbery Friday night at the Subway sandwich shop on Norwalk Boulevard in Whittier where he worked.

It was among several killings around Southern California over the weekend that authorities were still investigating.


One of two assailants who held up the Subway shot Molina about 10:30 p.m. Friday, even as he was handing over the money, police said.

“The victim took some time to get the cash out of the register, and they didn’t think it was a decent amount of time for them, so therefore one of the suspects decided to shoot him” with a handgun, said Whittier Police Officer Dominic Iraldo.

Police obtained descriptions of the robbers from Subway customers and from surveillance video, Iraldo said.

Pictures of a smiling Molina were taped inside the windows of the shop, which was closed temporarily. “A very nice guy, always smiling, super-nice with customers. He would always thank you before you left,” said a man who dropped by Sunday.


At the Molina home, on a winding street in Whittier, Josephine Molina sat at her kitchen table shuffling a pile of pictures of her son and his friends. Burial arrangements hadn’t been finalized, she said.

“I didn’t think I would need a plot this early in my life.... I miss him so.”

By Sunday morning, Los Angeles County coroner’s investigators had responded to 11 calls since midnight and were awaiting five additional bodies from area hospitals, said Lt. Fred Corral. Nearly all of the deaths, Corral said, were homicides.

The busy night began in Hollywood about 7 on Saturday when 32-year-old Jose Carreno, a Los Angeles resident, was shot while driving in the 1500 block of Hobart Boulevard, said LAPD spokeswoman Sandra Escalante. Carreno’s car collided with several other vehicles, and he later died at an area hospital.

About 2 a.m. Sunday, two men were killed and two others wounded in a shooting in the 3800 block of Crenshaw Boulevard, Escalante said. No arrests had been made, she said.

Officers in the West Valley were investigating a homicide in which a man was stabbed in a strip mall parking lot.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives were also busy, responding to five homicides outside the city limits. The first came shortly before 1 a.m., when an apparent gang-related shooting at the High Society club in the 12000 block of south Western Avenue in Athens left one man dead and another slightly wounded, according to Deputy Luis Castro.

Also about 1 a.m., an 18-year-old suspected gang member was shot and killed in Lancaster while trying to make his way into a party thrown by a rival gang, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said.


Nathanial Jackson of Palmdale was attempting to enter a party in the 44000 block of Third Street East, deputies said. An argument ensued and gunfire erupted.

Jackson died at a hospital from a single gunshot wound to his upper torso, deputies said.

A second fatal shooting in the Athens area occurred about 3:30 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of West 90th Street and South Budlong Avenue, said Sheriff’s Deputy Josie Woolum.

The victim, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.