A veteran Panorama City security guard who was gunned down Thursday night faced a life or death situation. Residents say Oscar Vasquez carried a gun while on duty, but his holster was empty when he was found. Police are investigating whether Vasquez was killed by his own weapon. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Panorama City for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 12, 2013.
A security guard at a Panorama strip mall was shot and killed Thursday night after what a witness described as an argument with the gunman.
The victim, identified Friday morning as 51-year-old Oscar Vasquez, was shot in a walkway between two buildings -- a liquor store and a market. The liquor store employee told police he heard a gunshot as the two argued, then called 911.
The liquor store employee went outside the find the uniformed security guard slumped against a wall in the walkway. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
"There was one description of a person in a brown hooded sweatshirt, and that from there that argument may have led to him being shot -- and, possibly, with his own gun," said Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Paul Vernon.
The guard was shot once, according to authorities.
The shooting occurred at about 10 p.m. at 15025 Roscoe Blvd. (map) The victim's wife and family friends arrived at the location Friday morning to retrieve his car from the strip mall parking lot.
"It didn't seem real," Alma Ortiz, the victim's niece, said after she learned of her uncle's death. "He was into his work. He loved what he did."
Customers told NBC4 that Vasquez treated them like family members when they shopped at the strip mall. Vasquez worked as a security guard at the location for more than 10 years, Ortiz said.
"I don't know why someone would do that," Ortiz said.
Oscar Vasquez had a holster for a gun, but the holster was empty, police said. They're considering whether the killer used Vasquez's own weapon on the security guard.
The shooter might have escaped through the alley, according to police. Officers, including a canine unit, searched the area late Thursday night.