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Phoenix Walmart manager killed during robbery

Phoenix Walmart manager killed during robbery

April 7th, 2012 by BOB CHRISTIE, Associated Press in News

PHOENIX (AP) - A manager at a Walmart store in west Phoenix was shot and killed by a gunman who robbed the store early Saturday, police said.

The support manager at the Walmart Supercenter died shortly after the robbery, Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said.

Two employees were collecting cash from the store's registers and placing it in a shopping cart just after midnight when a man with a handgun came up and told them he was robbing them, Thompson said. The gunman grabbed the cart and began pushing it out of the store as other employees were alerted to the robbery.

Two employees who were outside the store ran to the front doors, and the robber raised his gun and shot one of them in the chest, then pointed the gun at the other employee.

Store support manager Peter Marquez, 47, was taken to a hospital, where he died.

"These two people who approached him, I don't even think they had a chance to touch the cart or him," Thompson said. "He just saw 'em coming and raised up and shot the guy."

The robber pushed the cart containing the money box into the parking lot, took some of the cash from the box and ran away. He was last seen jumping a fence into a nearby neighborhood.

Thompson said police surrounded the neighborhood and searched for the gunman, but never found him.

The man was described as being in his 20s or 30s, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, and wearing a dark gray long-sleeved hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and dark shoes. He was wearing sunglasses and may have worn a mask, so witness descriptions calling him white or Hispanic may not be accurate, Thomson said.

Police released surveillance photos from the store that showed the man walking in and leaving with the shopping cart.

The store operates 24 hours a day, and some shoppers were inside when the robbery happened. The store was closed for hours as police investigated.

It reopened Saturday afternoon but will close overnight Saturday and Sunday before returning to 24-hour operation Monday.

Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said in a statement provided to the Arizona Republic that the company was working with authorities to help identify the suspect and was offering support to employees as needed.

She said Marquez was well-respected by his co-workers, who appreciated his positive attitude and commitment to family.

"We are extremely saddened by what took place," Gee said in the statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time. We are in close communications with them, trying to be as supportive as possible as they come to terms with their loss."