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For Crime-Fighters, Streets Full of Risk : Caution and restraint are the best ways for witnesses to avoid a possibly tragic outcome

December 17, 1995

There is a right way and a wrong way to help fight crime, and the evidence around the Valley continues to prove that caution and restraint make the best sense. It's also clear that getting too close to the action carries a heavy cost.

First, there was William Masters II of Sun Valley, who was carrying a gun--illegally--late one night when he decided to make a bit of a show about writing down the license plate number of a pair of graffiti vandals. In the confrontation that ensued, Masters shot and killed one of the taggers. He was then convicted of gun-carrying charges and was lucky to be sentenced to just three years probation.

Next, there was the tragic story of Keith Brown, the Neighborhood Watch block captain in Winnetka who got much too close to an explosive dispute with a neighbor. When Brown approached the gun-wielding man, he was shot and killed.

Now, we have a third case. This one involves Toluca Lake apartment manager Daniel McDonald, who, with his son, apparently came upon two car thieves.

Again, a confrontation ensued. Again, one of the suspected criminals was killed, reportedly as he was running away after trying to steal the car. McDonald has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting and killing the suspect.

McDonald has pleaded not guilty to the charge, and he might win in court. But the cost of getting too close to the crime, again, is heavy, regardless of the eventual outcome.

McDonald is being held in jail in lieu of a whopping $1.275-million bail. And he will spend the next several months wondering if this is just the beginning of a long period of incarceration.

The message is obvious. If you witness a crime, stay clear and call the police immediately. Trying to handle the matter on your own can lead to tragic consequences.

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