Robbers shoot, kill store owner in Strathmore

By Olivia Frye

It isn't clear how much money robbers stole from La Tienda Market in Strathmore on Sept. 1.

But there is no denying that the two men robbed a family of its livelihood, its children of their mother and the love of her husband's life.

Mary Sanchez, 68, died in the arms of her husband that night in the very store she opened 40 years ago last month.

Stathmore residents are mourning the loss of Sanchez this week, a devoted wife, mother of seven and grandmother of more than 30. Flowers, candles and sympathy notes line the walls and ground outside the La Tienda Market on Avenue 196 and Richardson Street.

Friends and family members are asking the question, ‘Why would anyone do this to such a wonderful lady?'

On Sept. 1, Sanchez and her nephew Arian Aguilar were getting ready to close up for the night when two masked men entered the store and demanded cash from the register.

Sanchez handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. The two suspects had come for what they wanted, but felt the need to take one more thing - a life.

As the two fled the market, they fired at Mary and her nephew. The bullets missed Arian, but Mary suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen. She died shortly after, according to police, who had already blocked of the area, even to relatives, to collect evidence.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Department is still searching for the two men. No arrests had been made as of press time.

Family members did say that the store does have surveillance cameras but the night of the robbery no one remembered to put in a tape. Grandson Fernando Sanchez wonders if that would have been enough to identify the two masked men.

&#8220I did not know Mary on a personal level but she was very friendly when I did make contact with her,” Strathmore resident Jessie Martinez said.

La Tienda Market was the Sanchez family's livelihood. Mary and her husband have owned and operated the store for 40-years and were in the process of planing the anniversary celebration later this month. The Sanchez family also had a home built in the back of the store.

The Sanchez family would like to see the store open as early as Thursday but there are still many things that need to be done in the store before they will reopen their doors. As for the future of the La Tienda Market, they hope that they will be able to continue to operate the family business.

The family is taking it one day at a time.

Tulare County Sheriff's Department and the Sanchez family are asking help from community. If anyone has information leading to the arrest of these suspects they are being urged to contact Sgt. Velasquez at the Tulare County Sheriff's Department 733-6211.

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