Authorities sought public help Monday to solve the kidnapping of a man from a shopping center in San Gabriel, where he may have been lured in connection with a business deal.
Ruochen “Tony” Liao, a 28-year-old Chinese national residing in Santa Ana, was kidnapped about 7:30 p.m. July 16 from a shopping plaza in the 100 block of West Valley Boulevard, the FBI reported.
The FBI and a family attorney held a news conference Monday morning at the Westwood Federal Building to seek public help and announce rewards in the case.
Liao’s family is offering a reward of $150,000 for information leading to his return; the FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 in the case.
Witnesses told the FBI that three men of Chinese ethnicity were involved in the abduction. They were riding in two very similar-looking, dark-color vehicles — a van, probably a Toyota Sienna or one similar to it; and an SUV, probably a Range Rover, according to the FBI.
One suspect drove away with Liao in the van, and the other two suspects drove away in the SUV. The suspects later demanded a $2 million ransom from the family, which was not paid, according to the FBI.
A witness described one of the suspects, known only as “David,” and authorities released a composite drawing of the man, described as 35-40 years old and about 6 feet tall. He speaks Mandarin.
Liao, who was working at a Costa Mesa luxury-car dealership, is Asian, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds, and has black hair and eyes.
Investigators are unsure if Liao was involved in a business deal, or if he was lured to the location and robbed, said Gene Kowel of the FBI.
“Our hope is that Tony is still alive,” Kowel said. “We’re operating under the premise that he is still alive, which is why this reward (and) this publicity is so crucial to the case. However, we do become concerned as these cases progress, the chance of someone remaining alive can diminish.”
Matthew Lombard, an attorney representing Liao’s family, said: “He’s a deeply loved person by his family. He’s their only child, and they’re very, very concerned for him.”
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the FBI at (310) 477-6565.