NewsLocal News


Unsealed warrant highlights extensive search for accused Church's Chicken shooter

albert blake churchs chicken shooting suspect.jpg
Posted at 7:05 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 22:16:59-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Newly unsealed court documents reveal how investigators were able to identify the suspected Church's Chicken shooter.

Albert Lee Blake, 49, was arrested weeks after the shooting erupted inside of the Otay Mesa West restaurant. Blake is accused of shooting three employees and killing Maribel Ibanez.

The shooting happened after an argument stemming from Blake allegedly trying to use a fake $100 dollar bill to purchase food. A number of witnesses gave similar descriptions of the man seen shooting inside of the Church's Chicken.

Witnesses reported the man coming back into the restaurant after the argument, standing in line, then shooting at employees. They also said he calmly walked away after and got into a blue sedan.

RELATED COVERAGE: Court documents reveal details in Church's Chicken murder investigation

According to search warrant affidavits, surveillance footage from the area revealed the car used by the alleged shooter. Police ran the license plate through their database and found a match.

The same vehicle was connected to a stop in September and the driver then was Albert Blake. Armed with Blake's name, investigators received “call data records” made from Blake’s cellphone on Nov. 6, the day of the shooting.

The documents reveal the calls were made in close proximity to the Church’s Chicken on Del Sol Blvd.

Surveillance footage showed a blue Dodge Charger in the area, matching the one Blake was stopped in before, at the same time the calls were made.

-- TIMELINE: Events that led to Church's Chicken shooting
-- Worker dead, two employees shot at Church’s Chicken in Otay Mesa

On Nov. 7, investigators traced the cellphone to Pomona where it was found abandoned. Investigators say Blake used the phone to contact his wife and a woman he was dating, right after the shooting.

The car he was driving was registered to his wife. In the documents the wife, Amy Collins, says the two have been separated for three years, but she allowed him to use the car.

She also told investigators that when she asked for the car back, Blake told her she would never get it back and that he would "blow the vehicle up."

According to the documents, investigators later went to the girlfriend's apartment in Spring Valley. They were finally able to locate the car in her assigned parking spot.

-- Witness saves victim of Church's Chicken shooting
-- Suspect in deadly Church's Chicken shooting pleads not guilty
-- Accused restaurant gunman arrested in Memphis
-- Shooting suspect has lengthy criminal history

Inside the car, investigators found a wallet with Blake's information inside and two fake $100 bills, according to the affidavit.

Blake was captured in Memphis, Tenn., and brought back to San Diego where he was formally charged.

The documents don't reveal how he was tracked down to Tennessee.

He was charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He faces up to 114 years to life in prison.

Blake is due back in court for a preliminary hearing in February.