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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

Deputies Kill Man After Standoff in Estranged Wife's Home

November 03, 1994|LISA O'NEILL

A 27-year-old man wielding a butcher knife was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies Wednesday morning after he forced his way into his estranged wife's home in violation of a restraining order and holed up in a bedroom with their 8-year-old son.

Thomas Albert Figueroa died at the home in an unincorporated area near Monrovia about 5:20 a.m. after being shot several times by three deputies, sheriff's spokeswoman Benita Hinojos said.

Figueroa entered the one-story pink home that he previously shared with Marguerita Viramontes, 26, at the end of Shrode Avenue at about 2:20 a.m., forcing his way in the front door, deputies said.

A woman at the home--either Viramontes or her sister--called 911.

When deputies arrived, they found Figueroa barricaded inside the bedroom where his 8-year-old son had been sleeping, Hinojos said. Figueroa was sitting with his back against the door, holding the knife to his own throat, she said.

For about two hours, deputies tried to persuade Figueroa to allow his son, who had awakened and was sitting up watching his father, to leave the room and to surrender the knife. As deputies talked through the closed door to Figueroa, other deputies quietly removed the iron bars from the bedroom window, Hinojos said.

At about 5 a.m., Figueroa, still holding the knife, tried to get his son to come to him. Deputies fired rubber bullets at him and simultaneously pulled the boy out of the window.

Figueroa then ran into the living room toward deputies, waving the knife, Hinojos said. Deputies ordered Figueroa to drop the knife, but he kept advancing, Hinojos said. Three deputies then shot at Figueroa, killing him. No one else was injured.

Figueroa was living at the house until several weeks ago, deputies said. Viramontes and Figueroa have two children, the 8-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, who was not at the house Wednesday.

A therapist who specializes in domestic abuse said this case typifies the weaknesses of court restraining orders. Effectiveness depends on the restrained person's cooperation, the response of police and the willingness of the victim to call for help, said Jane Lawless, who does consulting work for a shelter for battered women in Los Angeles. "If somebody is determined to knife you, shoot you or beat you up, a piece of paper is not going to stop them," she said.

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