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Police hope video of cook’s murder will help solve case

Police hope newly released surveillance video footage will help solve a homicide case in which a cook was shot to death last week at the Sherman Oaks restaurant where he worked.

The slaying of Raul Lopez, 38, the father of five children, forced the temporary closure of Hoagies & Wings on Ventura Boulevard just west of Van Nuys Boulevard.

Authorities said the killing began with a dispute last Friday around 11 p.m. and involved a group of five men who had ordered but were unhappy about how long it was taking to get their food.

LAPD homicide detectives said Lopez intervened after the group started yelling racial slurs at employees, which in turn prompted other customers to leave.

As the argument escalated, police said Lopez picked up a chair and managed to lead the men out of the restaurant. Once outside, Lopez put down the chair. As he walked back inside, police said one of the men pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and shot Lopez in the chest.

According to authorities, the suspected shooter, who is seen in the video, and his accomplices fled in a dark-colored SUV.

Lopez was taken to a local hospital, where he died a short time later.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Lopez’s wife and children appealed to the public to come forward with information on the slaying.

“He was a very responsible man. He loved his family,” said Melesio Lopez, the oldest of Lopez’s children at 16. “I just want justice.”

LAPD Det. James Nuttall said of Lopez: “He’s just out doing an honest day’s work, trying to do the right thing, escorting them from the restaurant to defuse the situation, and puts himself in harm’s way.”

Police said the suspects are African American men in their 30s and are described as having the build of football players — four of them are said to be between 6 feet 2 and 6 feet 4.

A recorded message at Hoagies & Wings said “due to an emergency” the restaurant would be closed until further notice and thanked patrons for their support.

ann.simmons@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com


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