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From: ds1031@aol.com (DS1031)
Subject: Warehouse shooting report
Date: Thu, 29 May 97 19:30:14
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

Picked this up in alt.sex.strip-clubs.

Dick O'Stone


LOS ANGELES -- A shootout in a warehouse full of sex toys and porno movie equipment ended Wednesday with a detective and a gunman dead and two officers wounded.

Glendale Detective Charles Lazzaretto, 30, was killed when he and another detective went to the warehouse Tuesday night seeking 28-year-old Israel Chappa Gonzalez on suspicion of trying to murder his live-in lover. Two Los Angeles officers were wounded after they arrived in response to the shooting.

The siege ended around daybreak after eight hours when a SWAT team stormed the warehouse.

It was not immediately known whether Gonzalez was killed by police gunfire or shot himself.

The building in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles is one of the San Fernando Valley's many adult entertainment companies. The building houses marital aids and other sexual props, and movies are shot and copied there.

Gonzalez was sporadically employed by the company, doing what an attorney for the business would only describe as "technical work."

"This was a tragic incident that had nothing to do with the company," said John H. Weston. "This was just a case of this being the wrong place at the wrong time."

Detectives had gone to the warehouse to find Gonzalez after he was accused of trying to kill his lover of more than eight years, police said. Gonzalez attacked the woman with a stun gun, handcuffed her, stuffed a cloth in her mouth and threw her in a bathtub, police said.

"She started coughing and the cloth fell out. She was able to communicate and talk to him" and get him to let her go, Glendale Sgt. Rick Young said.

The detectives came under fire Wednesday when they entered the warehouse.

Los Angeles Officer Jude Bella, 24, was wounded in the leg, buttocks and arm. Officer Kevin Foster, 26, was hit in the arm. Their wounds were not considered life-threatening.

A colleague said Gonzalez had earned respect in the industry as a talented set designer and occasional cameraman and casting director.

Bill Margold, an adult entertainment actor and director, said Gonzalez even appeared in one of his movies, "Main Course," when an actor failed to show.

Margold said Gonzalez had said his girlfriend didn't approve of his career.

"I have to stress the fact that this man had a lot of talent," he said. "I don't understand what pushed him to the point of breaking."

The Los Angeles Times Story:

The attempted murder suspect was holed up in a Chatsworth warehouse filled with porno movie equipment. A Glendale police officer went inside the pitch-black warehouse to get him.

Investigator Charles Lazzaretto was met with a barrage of gunfire as he searched for the gunman, who was suspected of beating his girlfriend.

When the shootout was over, the 30-year-old officer and the suspect were dead and two LAPD officers were wounded.

Lazzaretto, who was shot in the head, was left inside the cavernous warehouse for nearly two hours before police could get close enough to bring him out. The eight-hour standoff ended Wednesday morning when SWAT officers stormed the building.

The siege began late Tuesday night when Lazzaretto walked into the warehouse from a hallway, followed by his partner, Investigator Art Frank, and a company employee. After Lazzaretto was hit, Frank kept calling to him but never received a response.

Frank "was willing to do whatever he could do, he was ready to throw on a vest and go back in there," said Glendale Sgt. Rick Young. "He couldn't see him or hear him . . . he keeps calling for him and asking for him, but he gets no response."

Los Angeles Police Department interim Chief Bayan Lewis said Lazzaretto never had a chance to take cover or fire back.

"All of a sudden, bang . . ." Lewis said. "They just walked in and they were ambushed from above."

Lazzaretto became the ninth officer in Los Angeles County to die in the line of duty since 1995, the 41st in California. He was the first Glendale officer to die on duty in 25 years.

After one group of LAPD officers who attempted to rescue Lazaretto were fired at by the suspect, another assault was planned. This time a group of nine LAPD officers entered the warehouse. The suspect began shooting and they all returned fire. Two officers were injured--Jude Bella, 26, who was shot five times, including twice when bullets deflected off his bulletproof vest--and Kevin Foster, 24, who was shot in the arm.

Bella and Foster, former Police Academy classmates who have worked for the LAPD for two years, were in stable condition at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

It was unclear whether Lazzaretto could have survived had he been rescued earlier, authorities said.

Authorities described the suspect, Israel Chapa Gonzalez, 28, as a set designer and props provider at the adult entertainment company, Patrick Collins Inc. Gonzalez, who authorities said had no prior criminal record, was found dead about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. One source close to the investigation said he believed that Gonzalez had killed himself.

But others said it was unclear whether he had shot himself or had been hit by gunfire from SWAT officers. "There was a great deal of gunfire exchanged," Lewis said.

Lazzaretto and his partner were investigating the alleged attempted murder of Gonzalez's girlfriend, Mischell Bowen, 25, who was hospitalized Tuesday after she said he had beaten her and tried to kill her.

In an interview at her home, Bowen said Gonzalez arrived at the Glendale duplex they shared about 4 a.m. and began a brutal attack--striking her, jolting her several times with a stun gun and stuffing a rag into her mouth to muffle her cries. She said he also bound her legs with a rope, handcuffed her and, at one point, slammed her head against the porcelain edge of the bathtub.

"He said, 'You asked for this and now I'm going to kill you,' " Bowen said, tears forming as she recounted the events.

Bowen implored Gonzalez to stop, saying that she wouldn't press charges if he left her alone.

"And if I'd kept my promise, he'd still be alive and the officer would still be alive," said Bowen, who notified police and checked into a shelter for battered women.

But Bowen struggled to understand what unleashed his fury. She said that he worked long hours and owed the IRS $10,000 in back taxes but that she could not understand what she described as his erratic behavior and personality fluctuations.

"He went from Jekyll to Hyde," she said. "It made no sense to me."

Police too struggled to understand why the man ambushed the officers and then apparently kept rescuers at bay for so long.

Glendale police, who swarmed to the scene, described Lazzaretto as an easygoing officer who was very popular among the 229 members of the Glendale police force. The father of two sons, he was married to a part-time Glendale police dispatcher and was the son-in-law of a respected former LAPD commander and current assistant chief of the USC Department of Public Safety, Bob Taylor.

"As you can imagine, we are in a state of shock," said Glendale Police Chief James E. Anthony. "He was a very popular officer . . . a positive guy, you could always count on him to be there. Even as a young reserve officer, young cadets looked to him for leadership and guidance."

Said LAPD Capt. Richard Wemmer: "This morning we had the most devastating thing that can ever happen, that is to have an officer lose his life. Nothing is ever more traumatic for us than to see someone giving their life . . . especially someone who dies at the hands of a violent criminal."

The two injured West Valley officers underwent surgery early Wednesday but were awake and talking by midmorning.

Said one LAPD official: "Their intent was the rescue of the officer--not to take down the suspect. They were the unlucky ones."

Right after the two officers were shot, Investigator Frank requested an ambulance and sent out an "officer down" call. The LAPD officers who responded to the call entered the warehouse and were shot at by the suspect.

They tried to distract the suspect by "some type of controlled fire," LAPD spokesman Lt. Tony Alba said, as he stood near bloodstains on the sidewalk near the brick single-story building.

In a dramatic rescue attempt captured by some television news crews, Lazzaretto was carried from the building on the hood of a black-and-white police car and taken to waiting paramedics about 1:30 a.m. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Northridge hospital.

After he was out of the building, SWAT officers spent nearly five hours trying to capture Gonzalez, first using bullhorns, then flash grenades and tear gas.

"There was never any contact back from him," Lewis said. "We never saw him."

About 6 a.m., SWAT officers stormed the building and found Gonzalez dead.

Dan Karlson, 34, who lives in the nearby Chatsworth Gardens apartments, said neighbors of the Variel Avenue warehouse are more accustomed to quiet evenings than to swarms of police and helicopters.

"I was kept up all night by the sound of the helicopter, the gunfire, the tear gas bombs and the flash bang" grenades, Karlson said.

Many neighbors, in fact, didn't know the nature of the company that had only recently moved to the warehouse at 9801 Variel Ave.

John H. Weston, who identified himself as an attorney representing the company that occupies the warehouse where the shootings occurred, said the adult entertainment company "has nothing to do with this tragedy."

"It was just a case of the wrong place at the wrong time," Weston said. "These folks don't need this. They have been [doing], and will do, everything possible to assist the police in the investigation."

Theodore A. Cohen, a lawyer for Elegant Angel, the line of videos distributed by the company, said he was at the scene Wednesday afternoon at the request of Patrick Collins, who owns the adult videotape business.

Cohen said the warehouse is mainly used for editing and shipping hard-core videotapes. The company also produces films but that is generally done elsewhere, he said.

Gonzalez was an art director, set designer and jack-of-all-trades in the adult entertainment industry, though he briefly worked as an actor in the industry, said William Margold, a spokesman for the industry.

"I always thought he was remarkably talented," said Margold. "He was a guy who could have easily crossed over" into mainstream work.

Nancy Pera, an adult video producer, said Gonzalez had done some freelance work in the mainstream business, but she said he had a reputation as a troubled man.

Times staff writers Miles Corwin, Efrain Hernandez, John Johnson, Jill Leovy and correspondent Greg Rippee contributed to this story.

Copyright Los Angeles Times


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