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He Warned Authorities, Doctor Says of Ambush

December 23, 1987|ROBERT W. STEWART | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles psychologist who, along with his wife and daughter, was wounded in a bloody pistol assault by a former patient had warned authorities that the woman's harassment would ultimately erupt into violence, the psychologist said Tuesday, but officials were unable to prevent the attack.

"As recently as two weeks ago, in speaking to judicial and other personnel involved in this, I said that I believe that because of the way things were being handled, the next step will be that I'm going to be shot," David Fox, 34, said in an interview Tuesday, hours after he, his wife and 6-year-old daughter were released from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

They were admitted Sunday night after a woman Fox had counseled five years ago ambushed the family in the driveway of their Fairfax area home as they returned from dinner. Fox suffered nerve damage and a broken bone when he was shot in the right arm. His wife, Deborah, 31, was shot in both legs, and a single bullet remains lodged in the left leg of his daughter. Three sons, aged 9, 10 and 18 months, escaped injury.

'Senseless Victimization'

"What we are dealing with here is senseless victimization," Fox said. "I'm not only applying the word senseless to the obvious pathology that lies beneath an attempted murder of six people . . . I'm talking about the senselessness in a legal system that is more keenly involved in assuring the rights of the assailant than in safeguarding the rights of a citizen."

The woman arrested in the incident, Kimberly Gracyalny, 30, of Los Angeles, had been stalking the therapist for more than four years, according to court documents. Among other things, Fox asserted in court pleadings, Gracyalny had vandalized his home, slashed the tires on his car and shot off flashbulbs in the windows of his home. A judge eventually granted a restraining order requiring Gracyalny to stay at least 500 yards away from the family at all times.

Gracyalny, who is now in the jail ward of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, had been arrested for trespassing and other offenses involving the Foxes at least twice, police said. She was released from jail in the most recent case only a few weeks ago, Fox said. The family was not notified, he said.

"We're talking about a system that, in effect, I guess by omission, was allowing a crisis to brew despite the warnings," Fox said.

"We are grateful to God that we escaped this. And I wish that I could promise my wife and kids that this will never happen again. But I can't promise that."

Los Angeles Police Lt. Robert E. Kimball said detectives today will ask the district attorney's office to charge Gracyalny with six counts of attempted murder.

Crisis Center

Gracyalny, who is blond, stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 115 pounds, according to Department of Motor Vehicle Records, came to Fox as a referral from a crisis center for which he consults, Fox said.

Fox said he counseled Gracyalny for "under a dozen hours" between November, 1982, and March, 1983, before the harassment and vandalism began. Citing the doctor-patient relationship, he refused to say why she sought therapy.

He said he was unable to ascribe a motive to the attacks.

"It rarely has anything to do with the therapist," he said.

Speaking slowly, Fox described the terror that struck shortly after 7:30 Sunday night.

"I was taking my children out of the car and the assailant, I don't know where she came from, possibly out of the bushes, . . . stepped onto the lawn, crouched in a sort of Rambo-executioner position, muttered something about 'It's time to kill you,"' and then began firing from a .38 caliber revolver.

Fox said police later told him that Gracylany had purchased the gun herself. Because she had never been convicted of anything more serious than a misdemeanor, authorities told him the sale was legal, Fox said.

During the minutes that followed, Gracyalny emptied the chamber, reloaded, and emptied it again, Fox said.

"My daughter was on the ground and bleeding. My wife screamed at my older son to take the kids into the garage and hide, and they made it into the garage," Fox said.

"There was blood all over the driveway . . . I ran around the side of the house, and she came after me," he continued. "I picked up a lawn chair, a patio chair, to shield my face and she came at me shooting. I just learned this afternoon . . . that the bullet actually went through the chair. It would have been roughly an inch from my head . . . .

Tackled Woman

"At some point, I charged the assailant and I did manage to tackle her. She had the gun in her hand. My wife came out at that point and screamed . . . She was bleeding in both legs, she was actually on her knees. She managed to bite the fingers that were clutching the gun until the gun became loose. At that point we yelled out, 'We've got the gun. We've got the gun.' Neighbors yelled out the police are here."

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Psychological Assn. said Tuesday that, in an interview Monday, she had given The Times incorrect information on Fox's academic credentials. In fact, Fox received his doctoral degree from United States International University in 1980.

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