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Transient Fatally Shot Inside Home : Violence: Second man is wounded after homeowner surprises the two. Neighborhood cleanup preceded the slaying.

August 30, 1993|ANN W. O'NEILL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A weekend cleanup of transients' cardboard shelters by a Winnetka neighborhood group ended violently when two transients were shot, one of them fatally, by a homeowner who found them ransacking his house for items they claimed had been taken from their demolished shelters.

Police said the transients broke into Raymond John Komoorian's house early Sunday in the mistaken belief that he had taken items from their crude shelter, which had been hidden in bushes along the Southern Pacific train tracks until it was removed in a neighborhood cleanup.

Plagued by problems they trace to transients living in the warren of makeshift dwellings, the South Winnetka Neighborhood Watch had targeted the area for cleanup Saturday, dismantling a cluster of "rooms" behind Komoorian's house and setting off a sequence of events that ended in gunfire.

Komoorian, 47, surprised the two men ransacking his bedroom when he got home shortly after midnight, said Detective Phil Quartararo. Pillowcases and bags full of clothes and jewelry were stacked by the front door.

Komoorian told police he grabbed a .45 caliber handgun after noticing his dog acting strangely. He also saw that the bedroom door had been closed and a light was on. When the men rushed toward him from the bedroom, he fired several shots, Quartararo said.

The dead man has not been identified. The other, Ismael Rodriguez, 42, ran for nearly half a mile, leaving a trail of blood, before collapsing in front of a house. He was in critical condition at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, police said.

Police said they expect to book Rodriguez for murder under the felony murder rule, which holds participants in crimes responsible for deaths that occur during those crimes. Quartararo said he was confident that Komoorian would not face charges.

Neighbors said they have had problems with transients who set up shelters along the tracks abutting their houses, making tunnels and chambers littered with liquor bottles, clothing and rotting food. The group planted more than 800 thorny bougainvillea along a mile-long stretch of track to discourage them.

After Saturday's cleanup, volunteers bundled the transients' possessions. Hours before the shooting, the two transients, who seemed upset and intoxicated, had been arguing with residents, according to neighbors.

Komoorian's next-door neighbor, Farshid Enteghami, said he confronted the two in Komoorian's yard earlier in the evening. One insisted that Komoorian had taken his passport, papers and credit cards in a wallet. Enteghami said he told the man that a wallet had been turned over to police and advised him to go to the police station. Three hours later, Enteghami was awakened by the sound of gunshots.

Al Denney, a film director who heads the Neighborhood Watch group, said shooting the intruders "was the right thing to do."

"I believe that anybody who walks into your house uninvited better be giving their soul over to God because their ass belongs to you," Denney said.

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