A veteran U.S. Customs inspector shot and killed a knife-wielding neighbor who broke into his Pomona mobile home early Tuesday morning, authorities said.
George Silva, a senior customs inspector at Terminal Island in Long Beach, fired one shot from his .38-caliber revolver at Alex W. Mastoras, 36, who had pried open a window in Silva's mobile home and entered shortly after 1:30 a.m., authorities said.
The wounded man fled through the window, collapsed outside with a bullet wound to the upper torso and died at Pomona Valley Medical Center.
Residents of Big's, the trailer park at 1461 W. Mission Blvd. where the shooting occurred, said they had been plagued recently by a rash of break-ins. The modest, 113-unit park is home to a number of elderly residents.
Mastoras had lived for the past nine years at the park with his 74-year-old mother and ill stepfather, said Shirley Quist, the park's manager. She said Mastoras already had been warned to stop his door-to-door forays during which he would demand $5 loans from the elderly residents. With his six-foot frame, often wearing a black patch over his glass eye, Mastoras was an intimidating figure, she said.
"The older women were petrified of him," Quist said.
Other residents said Mastoras would peddle radios, watches, jewelry and even food outside a convenience store across the street. Many residents thought Mastoras was burglarizing the park's residents, but none caught him in the act, Quist said.
Bill Mastoras, the dead man's older brother who was at the park Tuesday, did not blame Silva for the shooting. He said his brother's problems were caused by drug addiction, which made him desperate for money.
Park residents said Silva, who usually drives a black pickup, did not drive his truck home Monday night because of mechanical problems. He was home but his truck was not parked in its usual spot underneath the carport, which might have led Mastoras to think he was away.