COSTA MESA — What began as an early-morning fistfight between two roommates who met in prison took a bizarre twist Saturday when one woman accidentally shot herself in the leg and then, toting a semiautomatic rifle, climbed up to the chimney where she held police at bay for more than two hours before giving up.
Both women were arrested, then taken to different area hospitals to be treated for injuries, Costa Mesa Police Lt. Gary Webster said. Police identified the women as Darlene M. Marks, 25, and Sandra Sue Bird, 29, both of whom had been living with Marks' elderly step-grandfather at his Costa Mesa home.
Police said they were first called to the quiet neighborhood of well-kept, single-family homes just after 2 a.m. by a neighbor who reported seeing two women in a savage fistfight on their front lawn. When police arrived at the home in the 2300 block of Rutgers Drive, Marks told officers that Bird had shot herself in the leg during a "quick-draw" accident. Bird had left the premises, police said.
A bloodied Marks was taken to College Hospital Costa Mesa for medical attention, then arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of narcotics, police said. But the disturbance was far from over.
Two hours later, police said, they received a phone call from someone in the house where the women lived. Bird had returned, the caller said, and was threating to kill the occupants of the house and any police officers who approached her.
"They (police) asked me to leave and get out of the way because they thought there might be some shooting going on," said Jay Huffman, 89, Marks' step-grandfather. When police arrived, Webster said, Bird climbed up to the roof with a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle, 30 rounds of ammunition and hid between the chimney and an overhanging tree, police said.
Meanwhile, eight police cars surrounded the house, blocked off the street and alerted bleary-eyed neighbors. The SWAT team was alerted but was not dispatched to the scene, police said.
"The police rapped on my door and said to stay on one side of the house," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified. "I was scared stiff."
After 2 1/2 hours, police said, Bird left the gun on the roof and jumped into the back yard, where she was arrested on charges of confronting an officer with a weapon. She was taken to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach for treatment of the gunshot wound in her leg and for psychiatric observation.
Huffman, 89, blamed the incident on his step-granddaughter's involvement with drugs. "It's all behind those drugs," he said, standing in his driveway, which was still stained with drops of blood. "Whiskey is bad but drugs are worse."
Huffman said Marks had met Bird while the two were in prison, but he could not say what they served time for.