Police search for suspect in deadly shooting at Otay Mesa restaurant

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Detectives worked Thursday to find the man who pulled a gun and opened fire inside an Otay Mesa fast-food restaurant following a dispute with staffers there, killing one employee and wounding two others.

The unidentified assailant shot up the Church’s Chicken outlet in the 3700 block of Del Sol Boulevard about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to San Diego police.

The shooter then ran out of the business, got into a dark-blue sedan and sped off to the north on Picador Boulevard, Lt. Martha Sainz said.

Medics took the victims to trauma centers, where one of them, identified by police as 28-year-old Maribel Merino Ibanez of San Diego, was pronounced dead.

One of those wounded was treated and released while the other remains in stable condition, Sainz said. Both of the surviving victims are men whose names have not been released.

“Through witness statements, detectives learned the suspect walked into the restaurant and ordered food,” Sainz said. “The suspect got into a verbal argument with employees and left the restaurant. He returned minutes later armed with a handgun and shot at three employees. There were customers inside the restaurant and none were injured.”

Witnesses described the assailant as a thin, roughly 6-foot black man in his 30s, wearing a light-blue sweatshirt and a blue Chargers-logo knit cap. They said he got into an argument with staffers at the restaurant near state Route 905 after ordering food and getting caught trying to pass a counterfeit bill.

David Walker, an employee at a nearby 7-Eleven store, described hearing about five gunshots.

“It sounded like firecrackers,” Walker told reporters. “And that’s what I thought it was at first — the first two. And then it kept going.”

Walker rushed over to the restaurant and used his belt as a tourniquet on one of the wounded men, CBS8 reported.

A GoFundMe.com page set up to help Ibanez’s family with funeral expenses memorialized her as “a loving daughter, sister and aunt” who had recently married.

As of Thursday evening, $2,235 had been raised toward the goal of $10,000.

There will also be a vigil held Friday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Church’s Chicken parking lot in remembrance of Maribel Ibanez.

Categories: Local San Diego News