By Trisha Leonard
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Police are looking for a suspect who shot and killed a gas station attendant working at U.S. Gas on Highway 50 and Lodi Avenue the night of Aug. 6.
A customer discovered the victim, a 27-year-old man, about 10:50 p.m. lying on the floor with blood around him and called 911, police said. Officers arrived on scene within about 1 minute of the call and found the victim without a pulse. Officers began CPR, but the victim was unresponsive and was declared dead at the scene. The victim’s identity is not being released, pending notification to next of kin.
Using surveillance video, officers confirmed that the victim was shot by a lone, thin male suspect who entered the front door of the store. The suspect was reportedly between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, and was wearing dark clothing, including a black hoodie and a mask over his face. The man had a brief encounter with the clerk before he raised a handgun and shot him, police said. The clerk fell to the floor immediately and the suspect fled the store. Police would not confirm whether only one shot was fired, nor would they say where the victim was shot on his body. Police would not state whether anything was taken from the store.
“There’s a good possibility that he knew the suspect,” Lt. Brian Williams said.
The video points to one single suspect, he said. The incident does not appear to be associated with any other crime.
The suspect appeared to have a fairly light skin tone and is estimated to be between the ages of 20 and 40. Surveillance footage did not show any vehicle in the area, but Williams said the suspect may have had a vehicle outside the camera angle.
The gas station remained closed Wednesday morning. South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler waited outside the gas station on a motorcycle. Additional police vehicles were parked down about a block away on Palmira Avenue.
“Obviously we have every available resource working on this,” Uhler said.
Detectives had been working through the night and were going to start again later Wednesday morning.
Sierra Tract resident Paul Martinez stopped by with his daughter.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it closed in years and years,” Martinez said.
The store had always seemed safe, Martinez added. He had never witnessed any problems at the location, he said.
Another Sierra Tract resident, who asked to not have her named used, said police knocked on her door around 1:30 a.m. to see if she’d heard anything.
Few signs indicated the gas station was the scene of a shooting. No windows were broken and no police tape blocked the area. Neat flower beds on the perimeter of the gas station were planted with purple, white and orange flowers. A scattering of beer boxes sat outside by the dumpster.
SLTPD is processing evidence, questioning witnesses and reaching out to other law enforcement agencies, including the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and the local FBI office, to help solve the homicide. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call SLTPD at 530-542-6100 or secret witness at 530-541-6800.
Tribune staff writer Dylan Silver contributed to this report.