Shortly after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, family members of Hernan Cardona, 60, walked into the conference room of the LAPD's Wilshire Division and sat on hard cushion chairs. They listened to Police Capt. Evangelyn Nathan as she recounted the events of the night their father was killed outside an Auto Zone at 1905 S. Western Ave. in Arlington Heights on Friday, April 18.
"Two men ambushed Mr. Cardona," Nathan said. "They pulled out pistols and fired." Cardona fired back, she said. Cardona, below left, was hit multiple times as he went to the aide of a wounded bystander. According to detectives, the bystander who was wounded fled after the shooting.
"We'd like for him to come forward," said Det. Kurt Wong. "We need to speak with him to see if he has information that will help us identify and convict the suspects." Authorities said there was still no motive for the shooting. Descriptions of the two suspects were also released at the conference. Nathan said the first suspect was a black man, thin and between the ages of 18 and 25. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, basketball shorts and blue sneakers. "We have a composite sketch on that suspect," Nathan said. The second suspect was a black man, thin and between the ages of 18 and 25. She said he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
Authorities are also looking for a third suspect, who was believed to be the driver of a dark-colored SUV that was waiting around the corner from the store.
Cardona's wife, Martha Ramirez, 55, and his oldest son, Wilfredo, 34, kept their heads down throughout the conference, occasionally looking at Nathan as she spoke.
City Councilman Herb Wesson announced a $50,000 reward approved by the L.A. City Council for information leading to the identification and capture of the two gunmen. He said St. Moritz Security Services Inc., the firm where Cardona worked, has offered $5,000, bringing the total reward to $55,000. "We have a moral responsibility to catch these guys," Wesson said. "The city owes this man because he risked his life."
Wilfredo Cardona pleaded with the public. "I just wanted to tell anyone, any witnesses, we have to stop these guys," he said. "If we don't stop them tomorrow, it could be you." At the end of the conference, Wilfredo hugged the councilman. "We're going to catch them," Wesson whispered. Wilfredo then broke down. He was escorted out as investigators showed two short clips of a surveillance video. Wilfredo's 3-year-old daughter ran after her father. "Papi, papi" she yelled. A relative tried holding her back, but she screamed, broke lose and ran to her dad.