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1 dead, multiple people shot near Azusa polling station as heavily armed assailant opens fire

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times 9/11/2016 Veronica Rocha

This photo provided by Marco Soto shows police vehicles outside a middle school in Asuza, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, following reports of a shooting near the Los Angeles-area polling site. © Marco Soto/@warzoneintro via AP This photo provided by Marco Soto shows police vehicles outside a middle school in Asuza, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, following reports of a shooting near the Los Angeles-area polling site. One person was killed and at least three others were wounded Tuesday in an active shooting near a polling place in Azusa.

Authorities said police were dealing with at least one female suspect who was heavily armed. But several witnesses interviewed by The Times said the shooter was a man.

“This is an active situation,” said Azusa Police Chief Steve Hunt, adding it’s too early to determine whether the violence was in any way related to the election.

“It’s very early to tell what the motive is, but it appears to be concentrated on the residential side, not at the polling station,” Hunt added.

At least one of the victims was headed to the polling station to vote, a law enforcement source told The Times.

Officers arrived about 2:02 p.m. in the 300 block of North Orange Avenue to find multiple shooting victims and a man with a rifle.

The gunman immediately fired at least 20 shots at police, said the source.

Under a hail of gunfire, officers took cover and returned shots at the man, who retreated into a home in the 500 block of Fourth Street, said the source, who requested anonymity because the case was ongoing. No officers were injured in the shooting.

Officers had the shooter surrounded, and were evacuating the area, the source said.

Few details were officially released about the shooting, which occurred sometime after 2 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the area of Fourth Street and Orange Avenue, said Officer Jerry Willison of the Azusa Police Department.

“This is a very volatile and critical situation,” he said.

Roberto Chavez, 67, and his wife were sitting outside on their porch when they saw a heavily armed man fire at least 10 rounds at group of people.

Police quickly responded, Chavez said. About 20 officers swarmed into the neighborhood in the 600 block of West Fourth Street, he said.

The gunman, who wore a white shirt and black pants, ran into a home about three doors down from Chavez’s house, he said.

Chavez said he recognized the man as someone who frequently visits and hangs out at his neighbor’s home.

He didn’t know the man’s name. He said some of the victims appeared to be neighbors in the area.

Police told him to remain indoors because the gunman had barricaded himself inside a home.

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” he said.

Faviola Moreno, 47, had just finished making a sandwich for her 5-year-old niece and was walking to the living where her niece was watching television when she heard three gunshots.

“I thought it was just fireworks,” Moreno said, “But then I thought about it and it really sounded more like gunshots.”

Moreno walked outside of her home to look and saw a man dressed in a white t-shirt with a black vest and black pants. He was armed and was walking away from the parking lot of Memorial Park.

She said the man stopped to reload his weapon and noticed her.

“I just ran inside,” she said. “I secured the door, grabbed my niece and ran into the bathroom and we locked ourselves there.”

She said inside, she heard police sirens and more gunshots.

“I don’t know if he shot at the police or they shot at him, but it was several gunshots,” Moreno said.

“I was afraid a bullet would come through the walls of the house.”

Moreno spoke to The Times by phone locked in the room. Police said there appears to be someone “down” inside a house but did not provide further details.

Azusa Union School District issued a lockdown for Slauson Middle and Mountain View Elementary schools about 2:15 p.m., officials said.

A nearby daycare center and preschool was also locked down.

Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan said the shooting was affecting two polling stations at Memorial Park, a preschool, and Dalton Elementary school.

He urged voters to avoid the area and “if necessary, cast a ballot at an alternate polling location.”



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