LANCASTER – A 20-year-old man was arrested early Monday morning for shooting a woman to death inside the Smoke Shack in east Lancaster late Sunday afternoon.
Samy Ali Mahmoud was arrested for murder around 2:10 a.m. and jailed on $1 million bail, according to Lancaster Station jail records.
The suspect and the victim worked at the Smoke Shack, located in the 100 Block of East Avenue J in Lancaster, according to Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. Eddie Hernandez
The store’s owner and several of his workers were inside the Smoke Shack at the time of the shooting, Hernandez said.
“The lady that was killed was in the back area of the smoke shop doing some cleaning,” Hernandez said. “One of the workers walks from the front of the store to the back of the store and goes into a storage area where there is a shotgun that belongs to the owner.”
“This worker, for whatever reason, decided to move the shotgun. As of last night he was saying that the shotgun fell and discharged, striking the female in the chest,” Hernandez continued.
The woman was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
There were surveillance cameras inside the store, but the cameras did not capture the incident, according to ABC 7.
On Monday, the Smoke Shack was open for business and the owner, Mike Bittar, confirmed that he was inside the store during the incident.
Bittar said he had been questioned by deputies and released around midnight. He said he could not elaborate on what happened Sunday afternoon because deputies had instructed him not to speak to the media until the investigation was completed.
Murder suspect Samy Ali Mahmoud was booked at the Lancaster Station around 2:20 a.m. Monday, and he is due in court on Wednesday, according to inmate records.
We are following this story closely and will have more information on this incident as soon as it becomes available.
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UPDATE 1/29/13 @ 10 am: The victim has officially been identified as Reyna Araceli Gutierrez, a 23-year-old Lancaster resident, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.