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‘A case that can’t go unsolved’: $55,000 reward offered in slaying of Jack in the Box worker

Jack in the Box
A Jack in the Box employee was killed by a gunman during a robbery attempt in El Monte.
(KTLA)

The mother of a Jack in the Box employee who was gunned down during a botched robbery attempt made an emotional plea Monday for the public to help identify her son’s killer.

Mary Smay fought back tears as she spoke at a news conference and urged anyone with information about the gunman to “please turn him in.”

“He has no business out running the streets to do this again,” she said. “He needs to be put away.”

Authorities announced a $55,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Juan Manuel Vidal’s killer. Authorities said the gunman held up a Subway days before the slaying.

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El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso called Vidal’s killer “a coward” and a threat to the community.

“This is a case that can’t go unsolved,” he said.

Juan Manuel Vidal, 25
Juan Manuel Vidal, 25
(Mary Smay )

Vidal, 25, was working the drive-through window at Jack in the Box at 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 21 when the gunman stormed into the restaurant in the 9200 block of Flair Drive in El Monte.

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The masked gunman rolled over the counter and into the employee area, according to Det. Adan Torres of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The mask had a bushy mustache and large nose and appeared to represent Mario, a character from Nintendo’s video game series “Super Mario.”

Surveillance video shows the man pointing toward the counter, then recoiling as if he had fired his weapon. He then turns around, slides over the counter and vanishes.

He was last seen getting into a dark-colored sedan.

Vidal was shot once in the chest. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.

On Monday, Torres said the gunman robbed a Subway restaurant in Irwindale two or three days before the fatal botched robbery.

In that robbery, the gunman entered the restaurant in the 5200 block of Rivergrade Road and stole an unknown amount of cash. He wore the same mask and similar clothing in the Jack in the Box robbery, the detective said. He probably used the same gun, Torres said.

Witnesses told investigators that he was seen driving away in a charcoal or black sedan.

Vidal was a recent pharmacy tech graduate of UEI College in El Monte. He had been interviewing and looking for a job at a local pharmacy.

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Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

Staff writer Jeanette Marantos contributed to article.


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