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Family, Home Bear Scars of Barricade

August 27, 1986|RAY PEREZ | Times Staff Writer

The stench of tear gas was still in the air Tuesday, and a saddened family member, wearing a gas mask, slowly inspected the Anaheim home, where volleys of tear gas canisters from police had been answered by 24 rifle rounds from barricaded Frank Benjamin Kovaletz.

"This is very, very hard," said Kovaletz's brother, who declined to state his given name.

He had been given the task of sifting through broken glass and shattered windows a day after police finally coaxed his brother out of the home in the 1800 block of West Tedmar Avenue. For 24 hours beginning Sunday afternoon, Kovaletz and police had turned the working-class neighborhood into a battle zone.

The ordeal ended Monday afternoon when police officers snatched Kovaletz, 45, as he attempted to retrieve a pack of cigarettes from the front yard. Kovaletz, who, police said, has a history of psychiatric problems, was then transferred to the UCI Medical Center psychiatric ward for a 72-hour observation period.

On Monday, some neighbors said Frank Benjamin Kovaletz has been a burden to his parents, Frank and Anne. Family arguments have been common during the more than 20 years the family has lived on Tedmar Avenue, they said.

'Gone Through a Lot'

But on Tuesday, the neighbors had become reserved and asked not to be identified. They talked about the hardship facing the Kovaletz family.

A woman who lives across the street said the parents have tried for years to get psychiatric help for their son.

"These people have gone through a lot. They've been trying to find help for him for a long time. It's the bureaucrats' fault for not helping them," she said. "Now they are damning the parents for what happened."

Another woman who lives two houses from the Kovaletz family said the neighborhood had been placed in great danger by the 24-hour barricade. But she said she sympathized with the family and with Frank Kovaletz.

"I'll be praying for him because I believe he needs some very special help," the woman said. "We (neighbors) got very angry about what happened. We have some children who could have been hurt. But at the same time, we are real people who care."

Although some neighbors referred to Kovaletz as "Crazy Frankie," one said that he had not been much of a neighborhood problem. The neighbor, however, said Kovaletz for years had been "a serious problem for his family."

Anne Kovaletz on Tuesday afternoon showed the neighbors some of the damage left by the armed confrontation. Six bullet holes were apparent in two front windows. The rear sliding-glass door was shattered, and bullet holes dotted many of the walls inside the modest, three-bedroom home.

The other Kovaletz son, who asked not to be identified, said the incident had upset his parents so much that he took them to a motel to stay until the house is cleaned and made habitable.

"They're very upset. They can't even talk about it. It's just very, very hard on them," he said.

Meantime, Frank Kovaletz remains at UCI Medical Center, where he has been a patient in the past, police said. Officers repeatedly have been called to the Tedmar Avenue house to arrest Frank Kovaletz and place him under psychiatric observation, police said.

But one neighbor said that is not nearly enough help for Kovaletz.

"Somebody has to do something about him because he really needs help. And taking him away for three days at a time has never helped, and it won't now," she said.

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