Authorities are asking the public for help in finding a man suspected of fatally shooting his former boss at a San Diego auto repair shop the victim owned and operated on April 19.
A customer of the business who was dropping off her car came across the body of Jalal "Joe" Abou around 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot of his shop, Joe's Auto Repair, located on 1930 Rosecrans Street.
Abou's body was found next to a silver Toyota with the driver side door still open.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots at the location at around 7:15 a.m. Nicolas Rosales, 47, a former mechanic at Joe's Auto Repair on Rosecrans Street, allegedly shot 63-year-old Abou to death at the garage around 7:30 a.m. that morning, according to San Diego police.
Officers arrived to find the victim lying in a parking lot at the garage with several Good Samaritans trying to revive him with CPR, homicide Lt. Ernie Herbert said. Paramedics took over the lifesaving attempt before pronouncing the man dead at the scene.
Family members said he was a husband and father of three who moved to the U.S. from Iraq nearly 40 years ago. They described him as active in the local Chaldean community.
"He was a good person, hard worker, he have no enemy. I don't know what happened," Raad Hannosh, the victim's nephew told10 News San Diego.
Witnesses reported seeing a man parked near the shop in a dark green sedan with primer spots on it before the shooting and driving away shortly after the gunshots rang out, San Diego Police Department Lt. Kevin Rooney told 10 News San Diego.
On April 28, detectives obtained an arrest warrant charging Rosales with murder in the death of Abou. Rooney declined to disclose what led investigators to identify Rosales as the suspected killer.
Rosales left his job at the victim's business in October of 2010. Police declined to state specifically if Rosales quit or was fired, though he did say Rosales returned to the garage several times between the date of his termination and the slaying.
Rooney would not elaborate on the reasons for those visits or discuss anything that may have transpired during them.
Rosales, who is known to frequent the Tijuana area, may be driving a green 1997 Honda Accord, California license plate No. 5YRJ935, or a white 2000 Ford Explorer, California license plate No. 6NZN776, according to police. The suspect is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds and should be considered armed and dangerous, Rooney said.
Anyone with information on Rosales' whereabouts is urged to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Abou has owned Joe's Auto Repair for about six years, and customers were saddened to hear about what happened.
"He was a really sweet guy and really honest. That's why we bring our cars here," customer Yvonne Prout told 10 News San Diego.
"This is horrendous… I can't imagine why anyone would shoot Joe. This is just nuts," said Customer Philip Evans. "This is the worst thing that's ever happened in this neighborhood."
On April 19, friends and customers left flowers, candles and sympathy cards in front of the auto repair shop.
"People don't do that for a mechanic," neighbor Troy Hernandez told 10 News San Diego. "These are clients and customers who have been loyal to him for a long time, not just because he was good mechanic, but because he was a special guy."
Funeral services for Abou took place April 26 at St. Peter’s Church in El Cajon.