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Santa Ana Police Kill Man Who Opened Fire From Rooftop

November 15, 1996|MATT LAIT and JEFF KASS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Santa Ana police shot and killed a man who opened fire with a rifle from his rooftop, sending officers and residents scurrying for cover Thursday.

Police said they did not know what motivated the gunman, identified as Ronald G. Theander, 35, to terrorize the neighborhood along the 2400 block of South Towner Street, but residents said he had been acting bizarrely for the past few days.

Theander, who wore camouflage pants and used a rifle with a scope, fired at least eight rounds at residents and police before four officers returned fire.

Two SWAT team officers fired at Theander from a nearby two-story house while two patrol officers shot at him from an adjacent yard. The gunman apparently was struck several times and fell or jumped off the roof into the backyard. He died at the scene, Lt. Robert Helton said.

No one else was injured during the incident, which started at about 1:15 p.m. and ended a half hour later.

Officers were called to the scene by a resident who reported that a sniper was firing rounds from his roof.

"All of a sudden we heard about five or six shots," said Linda Baker, who lives three houses away. "I was shaking all over."

When police arrived, the man started shooting at them, authorities said. Helton said Theander was armed with a .22-caliber rifle with "two high-capacity magazines" containing as many as 30 bullets each.

Theander continued firing as police surrounded his house and residents ducked for cover. There was no chance to negotiate a peaceful resolution, police said.

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