NewsLocal News


Suspect in deadly Church's Chicken shooting pleads not guilty

albert blake churchs chicken shooting suspect.jpg
Posted at 1:01 PM, Nov 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 20:17:25-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- The man accused of shooting and killing an employee at a South Bay fast-food restaurant and injuring two others pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday.

A judge at the arraignment ordered Albert Lee Blake be held on $5 million bail, noting he poses extreme danger to the public.

Blake was arrested in Memphis, Tennessee Friday. “ Investigators with the local task force began to hunt for the fugitive. He was pinpointed in a house on the 2300 block of Hubbard street today. He was taken into custody without incident,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release Friday.

Blake is charged with shooting and killing Maribel Merino-Ibanez, 28, and wounding two men on November 6 at the Church’s Chicken on Del Sol Boulevard.

Today, Ibanez's mother spoke to news crews after Blake's arraignment, thanking police officers and investigators.

Emma Merino said she felt anger when she saw Blake in person for the first time in court Tuesday.

"It's awful what he did to me," said Merino. "He took away my daughter, she was a perfect daughter."

"My heart is broken, I have to live with it all my life until I die," she continued. "But, I know he's going to pay... and that's all I want."


Worker dead, two employees shot at Church’s Chicken in Otay Mesa West
TIMELINE: Events that led to Church's Chicken shooting
Witness saves victim of Church's Chicken shooting in Otay Mesa
Church's Chicken shooting suspect has lengthy criminal history

According to police, Blake was at the restaurant earlier in the day when he tried to use a counterfeit bill to buy food.

"The suspect got into a verbal argument with employees and left the restaurant. He returned minutes later armed with a handgun and shot at three employees," police told 10News shortly after the shooting.

If convicted, Blake faces 114 years to life in prison. He is due in court again on December 19 for a status hearing.

Prosecutors say his case is not eligible for the death penalty.

Court documents show that Blake has a lengthy criminal history dating back to the 1990s.

In 2016, he was charged with drug offenses including manufacturing a controlled substance.

Blake also served time for counts of felony domestic violence in 2002.