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Man Attacks Female IRS Agent, Then Shoots Himself

March 20, 1987|LOUIS SAHAGUN | Times Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO — A 37-year-old self-employed computer programmer committed suicide at his home on Wednesday after sexually assaulting a female Internal Revenue Service agent who had arrived at his residence for a scheduled audit of his business, authorities said.

Clifton Charles Johnson was found nude in a sleeping bag in the backyard of his home, with a single shotgun wound to the head, according to Jim Bryant, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The agent, whose identity was being withheld, was not raped, although "she had bumps and bruises," said Sarah Wreford, an IRS spokeswoman. "She is a fairly new employee. This is very traumatic for her."

The agent is based in San Bernardino, which is part of the IRS Laguna Niguel district office.

"Assaults have been increasing on our people over the years," said Rob Giannangeli, spokesman for the IRS district office in Los Angeles.

In 1981, Giannangeli said, the IRS investigated 455 assaults and threats on IRS agents nationwide. In 1986, that figure jumped to 947, he said. And in 1984, an IRS agent was shot and killed by a taxpayer in Buffalo, N.Y., he said.

Wreford said that IRS agents "receive some training on how to react if they find themselves in a threatening situation."

In addition, Wreford said, "We have a system whereby if a taxpayer makes threats or professes any kind of anti-IRS sentiment we keep track of it and note it on the case." In such cases, Wreford said, "agents do not go out alone."

The San Bernardino incident began when the agent, in her late 20s, arrived at Johnson's home for a 1 p.m. appointment. As she entered, Johnson confronted her with a shotgun, handcuffed her, removed some of her clothing, placed her on a bed and began sexually assaulting her, Bryant said.

But then he abruptly let her go, he said.

"Our agent dressed as quickly as she could, left the house and summoned police by telephone," Wreford added. "As she was leaving she heard a gunshot."

Bryant said a sheriff's SWAT team responded to the call. Members of the team later found Johnson's body.

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