Otay Mesa

Murder Trial Ordered for Man Accused in Otay Mesa Church's Chicken Shooting

Maribel Merino Ibanez, 28, was fatally wounded and two of her co-workers were hospitalized

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A man who allegedly shot up an Otay Mesa fast-food restaurant, killing one employee and wounding two others, was ordered on Thursday to stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges.

Albert Lee Blake, 51, is accused in the Nov. 6, 2019, slaying of 28-year-old Maribel Merino Ibanez at the Church's Chicken restaurant at 3726 Del Sol Blvd.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb alleged Blake tried to use a counterfeit $100 bill to purchase food. When restaurant workers wouldn't accept it, he left the eatery, came back with a gun and opened fire on the restaurant's staff, the prosecutor alleged.

Loeb alleged that Blake positioned his car so he could easily flee the scene and changed clothes in order to conceal the weapon before he re-entered the restaurant.

"He went out, got that gun, and decided he was going to kill them all," Loeb alleged at the culmination of Blake's two-day preliminary hearing.

Ibanez was fatally wounded, and two of her co-workers were hospitalized. One of them was shot in the stomach and the other in the back, the prosecutor said.

The family of the woman shot at an Otay Mesa Church’s Chicken said they were relieved to hear a suspect was arrested, but nothing will bring her back. NBC 7’s Danica McAdam has more.

In addition to the murder count, Blake faces three attempted murder counts involving the two employees who were shot and another employee who was not struck by the gunfire.

Police circulated photographs of the shooter's vehicle and a brief physical description of the suspect in the weeks leading up to Blake's arrest later that month in Memphis, Tennessee.

Blake remains in custody on $5 million bail.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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