San Diego

Church's Chicken Reopens Doors Week After Deadly Shooting in Otay Mesa

A photo of Maribel Ibañez, a woman described as happy and helpful by those closest to her, remained posted next to the entrance when the doors officially reopened at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday

Exactly one week since a disgruntled customer walked into a Church's Chicken in Otay Mesa and fired shots across the counter at employees, killing a newlywed and injuring two others, the restaurant reopened its doors to the public on Wednesday. 

Employees of the South Bay eatery spent the morning preparing for their reopening. Some moved a tribute to their coworker away from the front entrance and scraped melted wax from memorial candles off the sidewalk to make way for customers. Others were spotted installing what appeared to be security cameras inside the building. 

"I think they should’ve done that in the beginning, I think it should be mandatory for any business to have at least one camera," customer Anita Eite-Miller said.

But a photo of Maribel Ibañez, a woman described as happy and helpful by those closest to her, remained posted next to the entrance when the doors officially reopened at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday. 

It was dinner time on Nov. 6 when a gunman walked into the restaurant on Del Sol Boulevard and fired several rounds at employees from across the counter. Investigators said the shooting was the culmination of an argument between a the suspect, a customer, and employees over a counterfeit bill.

The barrage of bullets killed Maribel Ibañez and severely injured Mario Rojas and Humberto Ruiz.

Ibañez was a newlywed and had been working at the Church’s Chicken on Del Sol Boulevard for several years as a shift leader, according to her sister, Gabreila Merino.

The grieving family showed up to a vigil outside the restuarant last Friday, pleading for justice. Ibañez mother, who was one of the first people to show up at the restaurant following the shooting, said she had faith justice would be served for her daughter's death. 

"[The shooter] got the wrong person but he’s gonna pay one day. I have faith in God," she said. 

The attorney for Ibañez's husband said the restaurant franchise owner has been more than helpful to the vicitms since the shooting.

"He's been very gracious and assisting family with funeral expenses over and above the funeral expenses provided under the law of California, and so coming out his own pocket and the pockets of his partners to help the family have an adequate funeral," attorney Christopher Morris said.

The San Diego Police Department said they have not yet located a suspected shooter, described as a black man with a thin build in his 30s, who was about 6 feet tall and wearing a light blue sweater, red sunglasses and a Chargers beanie at the time of the shooting. Police suspect he was drove a blue sedan from the scene. 

The restaurant is roughly 10 minutes away from the border. Police said they cannot confirm if the suspect fled to Mexico, but said investigators will look at surveillance footage from the nearby San Ysidro and Otay Mesa international ports of entry.

SDPD Captain Tom Underwood provided a summary of the deadly shooting at the Church's Chicken restaurant in Otay Mesa.

Anyone with information on the shooting was asked to call the SDPD Homicide Unit at (619)531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888)580-8477.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Victim Services Division said those affected by the shooting should contact the department for any medical and emotional needs.

Victims may receive services and resources by calling the Victim Services Division at (619) 531-4041. The department is supported by the State of California’s Victim Compensation Board.

Contact Us