Suspect identified in fatal security guard stabbing in Sylmar

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New details emerged Monday about the fatal stabbing of a security guard at a shopping plaza in Sylmar by a man suspected of stealing beer.

Santiago Madrigal, 24, of Sylmar was booked on suspicion of murder Sunday night in the fatal stabbing of Joe Lopez, 28, of Pacoima at Glenoaks Boulevard near Hubbard Street on Saturday afternoon, according to authorities.

Madrigal is being held at the Van Nuys jail in lieu of $2 million bail and is expected to be arraigned Tuesday morning at the San Fernando Court Department S, LAPD Detective Efren Gutierrez said.

Madrigal, who police said had a record that included prior theft-related offenses, lives across the street from the large plaza that includes a Food 4 Less and an Arby’s.

“It was a vicious assault” by an “opportunistic thief that turned homicidal,” Gutierrez said. “The poor guy is just doing his job and ends up getting killed over what appears to be essentially a few cans of beer.”

RELATED STORY: Security guard fatally stabbed at Sylmar shopping center

Gutierrez said the security officer apparently tried to detain the suspect following the theft from the Food 4 Less at the edge of the property. The suspect then assaulted him with a knife or other sharp weapon, stabbing him to death.

A security guard at the shopping plaza on Monday said that Lopez was a friendly guy who was just trying to care of his family.

“He was a really nice guy that didn’t deserve this,” said the guard, who identified himself only as Royce, citing security concerns. “It was …(for) less than $20 worth of beer. It’s not worth it.”

Royce said that people, particularly transients and gang members, try to shoplift on occasion because “they think it’s easy.”

“They don’t know there’s a security guard there; that’s how ghetto it is, honestly,” he said.

Royce added that people have made threats on his life at the plaza for expelling them from the property.


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