By Lydia V. Solis
Chief Correspondent, Southern California
MONTEREY PARK, CA – Homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner announced a $20,000 reward on July 11, during an emotional press conference at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. here to influence the public to come forward with information about a suspect who shot and killed motel employee Michelle Chen, 45, during a robbery at the Ambassador Inn in the 2700 block of West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, CA. The crime happened before 11 p.m., half hour before Michelle's shift ended on June 2. She had lived in Alhambra for 16 years and was married to Armando Escandor for 25. They have two children: 21-year-old Armando Jr. and Analisa, 12.
“Homicide bureau investigators are working diligently to solve the murder of Michelle Chen,” Capt. Bergner stated. “She was a steadfast member of the Alhambra community, a treasured wife and beloved mother of two. We ask the public for their assistance to help bring the suspect to justice, for her sake and to offer some sense of peace to her family.”
Lt. Joe Mendoza explained the details of the crime. “On the night of the murder, Miss Chen, who was affectionately known as Michelle, was working the night shift at an Alhambra motel where she had worked for the past six years. The suspect entered the lobby and pointed a handgun on Michelle. He demanded money, reached over the counter and shot her as she stood behind the counter. Michelle was fatally wounded.” Lt. Mendoza added that “she was a wife and mother, who enjoyed cooking, attending church, and spending time with her family.”
The masked suspect, described as a male adult, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall with medium build, fled the location on foot while Michelle lay on the floor dying, shot in the abdomen, and later pronounced dead at the scene. Nothing was taken, according to Lt. Mendoza. The gunman was reportedly wearing a dark hooded sweater and a dark-colored glove.
When asked to speak before the media, Armando Escandor tearfully uttered, “All I want is justice for my loving wife…” but he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t continue. “I want my son to talk about it.”
Armando Jr. narrated that his parents met in 1991, in Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, and got married in 1994. He was born in 1995.
When asked why he loves his mother, Junior expressed: “Because she was my perfect mother; positivity in her life was infectious. She was always known as a very loving person, caring and empathetic, and never failed to leave a lasting impression on any person she had met including guests at her hotel. She would go out of her way even if it was not within her work description. We’re going to miss our mother because she never stopped smiling. Please help us catch the man. All I want to tell this man though is: Why did you have to go too far, so far as to take an amazing woman from this world and from the lives of our family?” His sister Analisa added: “I would like justice for my mother because I barely got any time to spend with her so I want justice for my mom.”
Also present during the press conference was Assistant Chief Elliot Kase from the Alhambra Police Department. “Alhambra City Leaders, the Alhambra Police Department, and our community,” he announced, “are saddened by this unprovoked act of violence against a defenseless victim. The City of Alhambra has committed a $10,000 reward for the identification, arrest, and prosecution of the suspect. We are confident that justice will ultimately prevail and bring some level of closure to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones.”
To incentivize witnesses to step forward, the City of Alhambra Mayor David Mejia, presented a $10,000 reward offer, for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Michelle Chen. In an act of humanitarianism and concern for the family, a $10,000 reward was also offered by Escandor’s employer, Primetime Shuttle.
A chilling video surveillance of the incident captured footage of the suspect as he was committing the robbery, confronting Michelle, asking “Do you want to die?” then shooting her and making his escape. The incident lasted only about 45 seconds, according to Lt. Mendoza. Detectives are seeking to identify the suspect in the video footage and gave media members video discs as well as pictures of the victim.
If anyone has information about the fatal shooting of Michelle Chen, please call Homicide Bureau Detectives Gary Sloan or Brandt House at (323) 890-5500; or anonymously at (800) 222-8477; or online at http://lacrimestoppers.org.