When the two men came calling at La Fortuna restaurant early Saturday morning, the owner reached for his gun. The Hialeah neighborhood has seen plenty of violence, prompting merchants to arm themselves.
But he wasn’t fast enough.
The restaurateur was gunned down, fatally wounded by bullets fired through his front window. The would-be robbers fled.
Police are investigating the Saturday morning incident.
Although the Hialeah Police Department had not released the name of the deceased, witnesses said he owned the place.
The shooting happened around 6 a.m. before the restaurant opened for business. Witnesses said that two men demanded to get inside La Fortuna at 1925 W. 76th St. then shot at the owner multiple times through the window when he tried to reach for his firearm.
“Apparently, they said the two killers had already robbed three other stores and held somebody at gunpoint for their Lexus. It’s a tragedy,” said a woman who works in the area and knows the owners but declined to give her name.
Many of the witnesses were afraid and did not want to be identified. They said there have been several violent incidents in the area, which is interspersed between strip malls and houses.
“These are delinquents,” said a man whose former wife is related to the victim. “They just want to make easy money.”
There have been at least two other deadly shootings in the vicinity in the past year.
In March, a man died after he was accidentally shot in the hip at a parking on at 3051 W. 76th St. The gunman, who had been smoking marijuana with the victim, was charged with manslaughter.
In December 2014, a man was arrested for shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and injuring another woman in the parking lot of Las Tabernas de Wancho nightclub, located at 2100 W. 76th St.
Longtime customers described the victim as a hardworking man, father and grandfather who ran the restaurant with his wife, who was present during the confrontation, according to witnesses.
“This is very painful, because this is the second person killed in the area,” said another female witness. “People leave their homes, not knowing if they’ll make it back.”
Special correspondent Raul Torres contributed to this report.