Thursday, August 7, 2008

California: Woodland Hills intruder shot, killed

Woodland Hills, California

From the Contra Costa Times of August 1, 2008
Woodland Hills intruder shot, killed

One of several men who stormed a suburban home Friday was shot dead by one of the residents, who blasted the intruders as they entered, in an incident police were calling a home-invasion robbery attempt.

Three or four men kicked in the door of the house in the 24300 block of Burbank Boulevard, setting off the gunfight, Los Angeles police said. Aside from the one intruder killed, no one was injured.

"Obviously, these residents here do have a right to protect themselves," said Los Angeles police Lt. Steven Sambar. "Those people are extremely lucky."

Police were searching for two or three other suspects, described as African-American men in their 20s.

Gunfire and screams pierced the neighborhood's usual quiet about 2:45 p.m., after the men first knocked on the home's front door - then kicked it in, Los Angeles police Sgt. Jeff Nuttall said.

Inside was a couple in their 60s and their two sons in their 20s. At least one of the sons was armed, and he opened fire, hitting one of the intruders.

The man died in the doorway, clutching a revolver, Nuttall said. His identity was not immediately available.

The intruders shot back, but didn't hit anyone, then fled. They may have escaped in a silver sedan, Sambar said.

Inside the home, shell casings from various firearms littered the floor and bullet holes peppered the walls, he said.

Police detained a man about a block away but said he was not considered suspect.

Investigators have no reason to believe the suspects knew the victims beforehand, Nuttall said.

Asked how often victims of home invasion are able to chase off their attackers, Nuttall said: "Unfortunately, it's very rare."

Violent crime is rare in this middle-class neighborhood of single-family homes, LAPD Lt. Steven Sambar said.

"We don't have that type a crime in this area, so it's very unusual," he said.

A police barricade stranded neighboring residents, who were unable to return home for several hours until authorities finished combing the scene.

Only a car crash a couple of years ago had caused so much commotion here, said Sharon Friedman, a resident of eight years. "That was the most exciting thing that ever happened here," she said.

"You don't ever see any policemen around here," said Carmen Kaplan, 68, who has lived in a nearby house for 37 years. "I tell everybody I live in the safest part of the Valley ever. My kids grew up here. I walk here every night.

"It's just a very sad thing."

Not too rare, Sgt. Nuttall.

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