OAKLAND - A Safeway employee was killed during a robbery inside a branch of the supermarket in San Jose on Sunday, sources told KTVU.
San Jose police are investigating the homicide at the Safeway on Hamilton Avenue in the Willow Glen neighborhood.
Sources with knowledge of the crime say a thief was in the alcohol section stealing liquor. The shooting happened at 3:30 a.m.
Police say there was an altercation between a Safeway employee and an adult male suspect who allegedly shot the employee.
The suspect remains at large.
A Safeway worker who didn't want to be identified knows the victim.
"He was lovely. He was a nice young man. He worked night crew and I would see him in the mornings," said the worker. "He was always just very friendly, outgoing, you know."
A Safeway employee says workers are told not to confront thieves, a common practice in the retail industry.
The family of the victim gathered outside the store Sunday morning trying to get information. There was screaming and yelling when they were informed that their loved one had been killed.
San Jose police were in the grocery story investigating until about 1 p.m., but have not yet released information regarding the victim or suspect.
Eric Valzquez said he shops at the store often and was surprised this happened in Willow Glen.
"It's safe, it's safe. For us, it's safe," he said. "We never had any problems, nothing."
With the level of societal gun violence, another shopper had a different opinion.
"I'm shocked, but I'm not surprised," said Peggy Lambdin.
The Safeway remains closed with no estimated time to reopen and employees who will eventually return to work say they'll have to be more vigilant.
"It's just the way we live our lives now. We always have to be aware. We always have to look over our shoulder," said the worker who wanted to remain anonymous. "You have to take account of your circumstances and where you are, a way to get out of you need to. It's just something that's become the norm and it shouldn't be that way."
Safeway management plans to meet with employees Monday before deciding when to reopen.
San Jose police say this is the 14th homicide of the year.