Archive for Saturday, September 1, 2001

Shootout near L.A. leaves deputy, suspect dead

September 1, 2001


— A man killed a deputy and shot more than 150 rounds at federal agents trying to serve a search warrant Friday, then apparently died as his home burned to the ground.

Investigators began examining the house's charred ruins in the afternoon, but believed the body of James Beck, 35, was inside, Los Angeles Sheriff's Lt. Ray Peavy said.

Deputies, U.S. marshals and ATF agents arrived about 8:30 a.m. to search the home on a warrant accusing him of posing as a deputy U.S. marshal and stockpiling weapons, the Marshals Service said.

The officers surrounded the home and called Beck on the telephone to come out because they understood he had a "vicious dog," said Donald Kincaid, special agent with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office in Los Angeles.

A gunman then fired randomly from the house, aiming once at a police helicopter. Officers returned fire.

"Somebody had absolutely no regard for human life," Kincaid said.

The officer killed was Deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian, 40, a 17-year department veteran, said Sheriff Lee Baca.

Authorities waited a few hours then lobbed tear gas. White smoke could be seen coming from the upstairs windows.

Sheriff's Deputy Harry Drucker initially said authorities believed Beck torched the house. Peavy later said fire investigators were trying to determine if the tear gas could have started the fire.

As 30-foot flames licked through the collapsing roof, fire trucks using neighboring homes as shields poured streams of water on the blaze. Firefighters kept their distance because of the stockpile of weapons believed to be in the house, deputies said.

About 100 of Beck's neighbors were told to leave their homes, along with 1,200 children from Stevenson Ranch Elementary School. Buses took the children to another campus.

Beck's girlfriend left the house early in the standoff and is being detained as a witness.

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