In a room full of cameras, Armando Escandor Jr. took a deep breath and spoke directly to his mother’s killer.
“Why did you have to go too far?” the 21-year-old asked Tuesday, more than a month after someone whose identity remains unknown fatally shot his mother during a robbery attempt at an Alhambra hotel. “So far as to take away an amazing woman from this world and from the lives of my family.”
Escandor Jr. delivered a heart-wrenching plea for the public’s help as authorities announced a $20,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of the gunman.
Xiuxia “Michelle” Chen was fatally shot last month during a robbery attempt at the Ambassador Inn hotel, where she worked for six years.
“My mother did not deserve this, not one bit,” Escandor Jr. said. “So being able to know that this man, or the person responsible for this heinous crime was brought to justice, it would definitely take a weight off my heart.”
Investigators on Tuesday released surveillance footage that showed the masked gunman holding Chen at gunpoint before the shooting and then fleeing on foot.
Around 11 p.m. June 2, Chen, a manager at the hotel, was close to wrapping up her shift when the gunman, wearing a black hoodie and a single glove, stormed into the lobby, his face masked by a cap. He pointed a handgun at Chen and demanded she fill a black bag with money.
Within 45 seconds, he fired at least one shot and bolted from the building, his bag empty, police said.
The property owner called the police after finding Chen bleeding from a gunshot wound. Chen, a mother of two, was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:34 p.m., according to coroner’s records.
“This was, in our belief, a random act,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Det. Gary Sloan.
Authorities also sought the public’s help identifying a woman, believed to be a hotel guest, caught on surveillance video leaving the hotel lobby just seconds before the gunman entered.
The video shows her stopping and turning around as if she heard a gunshot or thought something nefarious was going to happen, authorities said.
Sloan said that investigators do not believe the woman had anything to do with the crime but that they would like anyone who might recognize her to contact them, as they are “desperately” interested in talking to her.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500.
Follow me on Twitter @AleneTchek