Church’s Chicken still closed after deadly shooting

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SAN DIEGO — Five days after a shooting that took the life of a woman, the Church’s Chicken restaurant in Otay Mesa remains closed. Flowers and candles line the establishment from a vigil held Friday.

Dozens gathered there to honor the life of 28-year-old Maribel Merino Ibanez.

“She had a big heart,” said Ibanez’s mother, Emma Merino.

People packed the Church’s Chicken parking lot, where they lit candles and recited prayers.

Ibanez’s former co-worker, Hilda Lucero, described her as loving, easy-going, and hardworking.

“She was a good worker. She loved to be here — never missed a day,” Lucero told FOX 5.

Ibanez is being remembered as a beloved daughter, sister, aunt and newlywed. She was married in March, according to family members.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office wants victims to know there is assistance available to anyone impacted. The program helps pays for medical costs and other losses.

“These victims that have suffered need assistance,” said Summer Stephan, district attorney for San Diego County. “They need crisis intervention, they need trauma care, sometimes they need burial services. That’s what our team does.”

San Diego police officers who responded to the fast-food restaurant the night of the shooting also attended the vigil.

“Our officers are hit very hard by this too,” said San Diego police Captain Manuel Del Toro. “It’s a topic at line up. It’s a constant topic that’s on everybody’s mind.”

The gunman had not been caught Friday night. Police described him as a black man in his 30s. He was last seen driving a dark blue sedan.

“My daughter paid a price — big price. But she didn’t have to,” Merino said. “He got the wrong person, but he’s going to pay one day. I have a faith in God.”

Anyone with information about the shooting should call San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

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