Hatchet-wielding man attacks family

Oct. 31, 2002 at 3:07 PM
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LAGUNA HILLS, Calif., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Members of a Southern California family escaped unharmed Thursday after a hatchet-wielding man barged into an Orange County home and assaulted his former in-laws and his own 10-year-old daughter before being felled by a single shotgun blast.

Orange County sheriff's officials said the 30-year-old suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was killed by a shotgun blast fired by his ex-wife's boyfriend during a melee that began when the suspect allegedly broke in and tried to force his daughter to drink an unidentified liquid that was believed to be poison.

The girl was staying at her grandparents' home with her mother and her mom's boyfriend, who eventually ended the terrifying attack with a shotgun after he and the two grandparents were struck with the hatchet.

"The boyfriend was able to break away and go to a back room where he armed himself with a shotgun and was able to fire one shot," Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Amormino told reporters outside the home in the normally peaceful middle class neighborhood.

Detectives were still sorting out the circumstances at daybreak, however Amormino said it appeared that the intruder had recently been bailed out of jail after being arrested during the weekend for violating a court restraining order and assaulting his former wife.

According to the victims, the suspect broke into the home of his ex-wife's parents at around 1 a.m. PST and tried to force his daughter to drink the liquid. The girl's grandparents intervened and were struck with the hatchet. The grandfather, reportedly a retired Marine Corps sergeant major, fired at the attacker with a handgun, but missed. The daughter's boyfriend joined the fray and was also injured by the hatchet before fetching the shotgun from another room.

The Orange County Register reported that a gunshot could be heard on a tape of the 911 placed by the ex-wife, who implored the emergency operator to: "Get over here. Get over here."

The injured were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of unspecified wounds that were described as non-life threatening. The girl was not hurt.

Topics: Jim Amormino
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