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Man Calls Radio Station, Kills Self : Suicide: He seeks to have disc jockey intercede with his wife. Police are notified, but are unable to keep him from shooting himself.

November 21, 1990|JESSE KATZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Baldwin Park man, apparently distraught over marital problems, killed himself after he called a country radio station and threatened suicide if a disc jockey did not talk to his wife, authorities said Tuesday.

Baldwin Park police said the 63-year-old man shot himself in his living room Monday after allegedly pointing a gun at a police officer who then fired a shot at the house. Police had been alerted by the radio station and were attempting to persuade the man to drop his .38-caliber revolver.

The man's name was not released because police had not been able to find his wife or other family members.

The man had called station KZLA on Monday afternoon and told a receptionist that he was having problems communicating with his wife, station officials said. He then threatened to shoot himself if Ken Cooper, the morning disc jockey, did not talk to her. Cooper was not on the air or at the station at the time.

KZLA's public affairs director, Renee Thomas, said the man's phone number was immediately given to police and a suicide hot line.

"How terribly sad this is," Thomas said. "When you hear about people doing this sort of thing, most often they don't follow through. We are really sorry this happened."

With the help of the man's telephone number, Baldwin Park police found his house. When officers arrived, they saw him standing in a living room window with the gun pointed to his head.

"They tried to establish verbal communication with him, to get him to put the gun down," Lt. Mike Bennett said. "But that wasn't very successful. He appeared agitated, waving his free arm and saying something that wasn't audible to the officers."

After several minutes, the man allegedly pointed the gun at one of the officers, who had taken cover about 30 feet away. Fearing for his own safety, the officer fired a shot at the front door, Bennett said. A few seconds later, a shot was heard from inside the house.

Unsure whether the man had a hostage, officers evacuated 70 to 100 people from the surrounding houses and took them to the auditorium of nearby Pleasant View School. Children there were kept in class an extra hour. A SWAT team was put on standby.

When police officers peered through a window, they saw the man lying on the floor. The angle of his gunshot wound to the head indicated that it was self-inflicted and not from the officer's bullet, Bennett said.

Neighbors said the man was a former machinist for a boat factory, but had hurt his back several months ago and was receiving disability benefits.

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