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One fatality in Azusa shooting


The man who shot three people in Azusa, one fatally, before he was shot dead by police had taken cocaine prior to the Election Day violence, authorities said today.

Officers from Azusa and Irwindale responded to reports of a shooting around 2 p.m. Tuesday in the 500 block of West Fourth Street, said Deputy Kelvin Moody with the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. Sheriff’s detectives are assisting Azusa police with the investigation.

The 45-year-old suspect had been on a cocaine binge when he stepped outside his home and began shooting at cars, according to Moody.

The gunman shot a woman driving a van, which later crashed, before he walked up to his 77-year-old neighbor and fatally shot him, Moody said.

The fatally wounded victim was identified today as Francis Varney, the coroner’s office reported. The suspect’s name was withheld, pending notification of his relatives.

After shooting Varney, the suspect shot another woman down the street, Moody said.

The female victims, hospitalized in critical condition, are 65 and 59 years old, according to Moody. One woman suffered a gunshot wound to the face and the other to the body, said Sheriff’s homicide Lt. John Corina.

Responding officers were shot at by the suspect as they helped the wounded victims, said acting Azusa Police Chief Steve Hunt. The officers returned fire, killing the gunman, Moody said.

No officers were wounded in the exchange of gunfire, Hunt said.

A search of the suspect’s residence revealed that he was in possession of a handgun, an assault rifle, a shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Moody said.

Two people were evacuated from a home behind the house where the suspect was found, Corina said. They heard the shots and sheltered in place until police arrived but did not see the shooting.

The shooting scene was near Slauson Middle School and Mountain View Elementary School, both of which were placed on lockdown. Also locked down were two polling stations—one at Dalton Elementary School and the other in Memorial Park. By late Tuesday afternoon, the Dalton voting station had been reopened but Memorial Park remained closed.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office advised voters to visit other polling places to cast a provisional ballot before polling places closed at 8 p.m.

The shooting did not appear to be connected to the election, the polling places or the schools, Corina said.