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CRIME : Man Kills Himself After Standoff

March 10, 1994|JOE DONNELLY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A West Covina man armed with a semiautomatic pistol fatally shot himself in the head after being wounded during a confrontation with a Covina police officer Tuesday morning, according to police and witnesses.

The dead man, Charles Edmond Blackburn, 31, was described as a paranoid schizophrenic who had been picked up by police before.

The incident Tuesday began about 11 a.m. when three Covina High School students saw a gunman firing shots into the air near the school's athletic fields. School officials said Blackburn did not go on campus or fire at students.

Fifteen minutes later, Covina officer David Povero spotted a man fitting the gunman's description several blocks away, just over the city limits on Fleetwell Avenue in West Covina. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the shooting, Povero got out of his patrol car and ordered Blackburn to stop.

But Blackburn pointed his weapon at the officer, who then shot the suspect in the right leg near his hip, sheriff's spokesmen said.

According to the Sheriff's Department and a witness who works nearby, Povero's pistol jammed and he scurried behind his patrol car for cover. At that point, Blackburn first pointed his Colt .45 to his own head, then at the officer, who was trying to fix his weapon, before pointing the gun again to his head and shooting himself.

Blackburn was pronounced dead at Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina about 11:30 a.m. Covina police said this was Povero's first shooting incident during his four years on the force.

Blackburn's family told the Sheriff's Department that he had been under psychiatric care for paranoid schizophrenia. West Covina police took Blackburn into custody for psychiatric observation twice in 1984 and again in July, 1987. Blackburn was also arrested in West Covina in 1982 on felony assault and weapons charges, police said.

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