A rookie Los Angeles police officer was fatally shot early Tuesday outside a Northridge home by a 17-year-old youth who had killed his father in a dispute over loud music, investigators said. The boy later apparently shot himself to death.
Officer Christy Lynne Hamilton, 45, who graduated from the Police Academy on Friday, died after she was shot once in the chest with an AR-15 military-style semiautomatic rifle as she and other officers responded to a report of gunfire at an Amestoy Avenue home.
Police said Steven R. Golly, a Vietnam veteran and gun collector, was gunned down by his son, Christopher, after the pair argued over turning down the youth's stereo. When police arrived, Chris opened fire on them from his front lawn, hitting Hamilton, police said.
The youth retreated into the house, and several shots were heard. SWAT officers stormed the house after trying for several hours to telephone the youth. Inside, both Gollys were found dead, police said.
Hamilton, a mother of two, was the second female Los Angeles police officer to die in the line of duty, and the ninth officer to be killed in the Los Angeles area in the last year.
Upon her Police Academy graduation, Hamilton had received an award honoring Tina Kerbrat, the other LAPD female officer who was killed in the line of duty. Kerbrat, also a rookie, was killed three years ago when she and another officer tried to question two men drinking beer on a Sun Valley sidewalk.
Friends described Chris as a bright but troubled youth who was a daily abuser of methamphetamine, or speed. He was recently kicked out of a continuation school after being thrown out of Granada Hills High School. Friends said he used the drug at least once a day and that it often made him edgy.
Family tensions reached the breaking point early Tuesday when Steven Golly asked his son to turn down his stereo, police said.
Angered by the demand, Chris shot his father. After the shots, an unidentified woman also living in the house fled and called police from a neighbor's home. She was accompanied by her son's girlfriend.
Shortly after 1 a.m., six officers in three police cars from the Devonshire Division turned the corner at Septo Street and Amestoy Avenue, responding to a 911 report of gunfire, Lt. John Dunkin said. The woman flagged down the squad cars.
The first police car stopped directly in front of the Golly home, the second at Amestoy and Septo and the third several feet behind.
As the officers stepped out of their cars, Chris opened fire from his front lawn, which is on an embankment about 10 feet above the street. He was, according to police, using a rifle of the type usually referred to as the AR-15, a civilian version of the military's standard M-16 rifle.
From Chris' vantage point, the first police car was out of the line of fire, but the second two were easily visible, police said.
Dunkin said one round struck Hamilton, who was crouching behind the open door of the third squad car and wearing a protective vest. The bullet punctured the door and went through an arm opening in the vest and into her chest.
The gunfire also shattered windows in two police vehicles and left a dozen holes in the body panels, police said.
After Chris stopped shooting and retreated into the house, other officers discovered that Hamilton was not moving.
Two more squad cars arrived, and the fatally wounded Hamilton was rushed to Northridge Hospital Medical Center by ambulance. She was pronounced dead an hour later.
While officers were removing Hamilton, another five or six shots came from inside the home, apparently marking Chris' suicide, Police Chief Willie L. Williams said at a news conference.
After trying without success to reach someone inside the house by telephone, SWAT team members tossed tear gas canisters into the home about 6 a.m. and then entered.
Inside, police found the body of Steven Golly in a back room used as a den. Chris' body lay in a hallway leading to a bedroom.
A youth who described himself as Chris' best friend said he was at the Golly house Monday night when father and son were arguing, and that the younger Golly was not under the influence of speed.
Matt Conner said Chris was angry and talked about getting back at or even killing his father, a wholesale electrical equipment supplier.
"I tried to talk him out of it," Conner said as he awaited police questioning at the Devonshire station. "He said he wasn't going to do it, to shoot his father. They were having problems.
"He just said he had had enough. He snapped, basically. . . . He and his dad argued a lot. He lost control. He was completely sober (Monday night). I was with him all night, till 10:30."
Friends said that the older Golly was an avid gun collector, and that his son often bragged to his friends about his father's weapons, although the youth was not believed to own any guns.
It was unclear Tuesday whether the AR-15 rifle Chris used was from that collection, and it was unclear what type of the weapon he used.