A story for every victim

Mark Daniel Sly, 45

Mark Daniel Sly, a 45-year-old white man, was shot to death by L.A. County sheriff's deputies Tuesday, Nov. 22, in the 13500 block of South Beach Boulevard in La Mirada, according to coroner’s records. 

Sly, carrying a handgun, walked into a convenience store about 9 p.m. and ordered the people inside to leave, said Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Jauch. 

Deputies were called, Jauch said, and when they arrived, Sly was standing in front of the store holding a gun in his right hand. He ignored the deputies' commands to drop the weapon and went back inside, Jauch said. 

During a nearly four-hour standoff, a sheriff’s SWAT officer fired once into the store, after Sly allegedly pointed his gun at deputies. A short time later, Sly fired his gun once through the store’s front window. No one was injured by those shots, Jauch said. 

Sheriff’s Department crisis negotiators spoke with Sly on the telephone but couldn’t convince him to surrender, Jauch said. 

Around 12:30 a.m., Sly emerged from the store shooting at the deputies, who returned fire. In a video of the shooting posted online, Sly seems to stumble through the door, raises his right arm, lowers his head and begins firing, the muzzle flashes apparent in the footage. 

Sly was struck multiple times by the deputies' gunfire and was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:03 a.m., according to coroner’s records. 

“It was a suicide mission,” said Sly’s wife, Lani “Jenni” Sly. “He wasn’t there to rob. In the video you can see him suck down a drink and then put money on the counter. He paid for his own drink.”

Jauch confirmed that Sly left money on the store counter before he went outside. He also left a note saying he was sorry, Jauch said. 

Jenni Sly said her husband had a history of drug and alcohol use and problems with his physical and mental health. 

Earlier in the day, she said, “he told me he was done, and I thought he was talking about alcohol. He’d already told me he was going to AA for my birthday, because he knew that was the best thing he could do for me. ... If someone tells you they’re giving up on everything, be sure to ask them, ‘What do you mean, alcohol or life?’”

The couple lived with Sly's mother a few blocks from the convenience store, Jenni Sly said. When they heard about the standoff, they called him repeatedly and ran to the store hoping to talk to him. He never answered their calls, she said, and the deputies wouldn't let her go inside or talk to him on their phone. 

"They said, 'He doesn't want to talk to you,'" she said. "I think they knew he was dead. So we went home to wait, and on TV they kept playing the video over and over again. I could barely breathe."

Sly was born in Bellflower, she said, but spent most of his adult life moving around the country with his job as a high speed polisher, polishing grills, wheels, and other aluminum parts on big rig trucks, until he could no longer do the work. 

He'd had several personal setbacks in the weeks before he was killed, his wife said, and the family struggled to get him the help he needed.

She described her husband as a kind and generous man who bought food for homeless people and stray dogs and cats. “He didn’t judge anybody,” she said. 

“He looked at your heart, not your outside.”

The shooting is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau. Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Photo: Jenni Sly and her husband Mark Daniel Sly outside their home. Credit: Family photo

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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