Esperanza Serrano, 66
The Times' Esmeralda Bermudez covers the slaying of Esperanza Serrano, a 66-year-old Latina who was shot and killed at her check-cashing business in Lynwood on Wednesday:
She could have quit the business 20 years ago when her husband passed away, closed down the storefront when her children offered to care for her. Or Esperanza Serrano could have quietly slipped into retirement when she turned 62.
But at 66 years old, she loved running her check-cashing business. From behind her glass window along the 3000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Lynwood, she greeted a loyal clientele that she built over three decades.
Buenos dias, Doña Esperanza! customers called out, and she cashed their checks, sometimes for free. She lent them money and, now and then, helped them find work.
As customers pulled up in front of Century Check Cashing on Thursday morning they were shocked and saddened to find her window shut, her office closed.
Inside, homicide detectives combed for clues in the shooting death Wednesday of Serrano, a grandmother of eight.
Read more of Bermudez's story: Customers mourn slain Lynwood merchant
[An earlier version of this post incorrectly gave Serrano's age as 62 in the introduction to the excerpt.]
Photo: Rudy Simmons of Palmdale makes the sign of the cross after lighting a candle at a memorial for Esperanza Serrano at Century Check Cashing in Lynwood. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times