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Use of Automatic Weapon in Holdup Attempt Leaves Police Troubled

January 07, 1988|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

An armored car guard remained in critical condition Wednesday after being shot with a military-style automatic weapon during an attempted robbery in Glendale on New Year's Eve.

Howard J. White, 31, of Hawthorne was shot at close range several times by an assailant who remains at large. No money was taken, police said.

Witnesses described the weapon as an Uzi-style automatic weapon, distinguished by its compact size and short barrel. Police, who recovered seven shell casings at the scene, will not disclose the make of the gun, but they did express concern that it was an automatic weapon.

Glendale Police Sgt. Dean Durand said he did not believe such a weapon had ever been used in a robbery in the city.

Los Angeles Police Commander William Booth said that while the Los Angeles Police Department often seizes machine guns and other sophisticated weapons from criminals and gang members, their use in robberies is uncommon.

The shooting occurred about 10:30 a.m. when White and the driver of the Sectran Armor Transportation Co. vehicle, Dorinel Coman, 26, of Anaheim were making a delivery to the Valley Check Cashiers at 6344 San Fernando Road.

'Give Me All Your Money'

A Los Angeles man who witnessed the incident told The Times he was walking out of the store after cashing a $10 lottery ticket when he happened upon the scene.

"I looked up and I was about three feet from this guy who had this machine gun in the belly of the guard," said the witness who requested anonymity. "He said, 'Give me all your money,' and the guy said 'No.' Then he just starts, bang, bang, bang right in front of my eyes, right into the guy's belly."

The witness said he ran for shelter inside the check cashing store.

A second witness, who also requested anonymity, said in an interview that he did not see the shooting take place, but he heard the commotion while waiting for a bus.

"I was just sitting there and I heard someone yelling," he said. "The next thing I know, World War III started. Somewhere around the second round I was under the bench."

The second witness said he later ran behind a telephone pole. When the shooting stopped, he said, left his cover to see if he could assist White, who lay bloodied on the parking lot asphalt.

"As I got there I saw a guy come out from around the truck with an Uzi in his hand," he said. "I thought it was the other armed guard . . . but he wasn't wearing a uniform, so I made a beeline back for the telephone pole."

The witnesses said the gunman walked around the truck for about a minute after the shooting, apparently attempting to enter the vehicle, which was parked in the lot in front of the store.

"Then he started walking down the driveway. He looked at me and had a smile on his face--just as cool as day," he said.

Both witnesses said they are familiar with guns and described the weapon as an Uzi automatic weapon.

They described the gunman as dark-haired and olive complected, who stood between 5 feet, 7 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches and weighed from 140 to 170 pounds. He appeared to be about 28 to 30 years old, they said.

The gunman fled the scene in a late model black-over-white sedan, a police said.

White, who was shot in abdomen, head and hip, is at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. "He was sprayed with shots," hospital spokeswoman Linda Roberts said.

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