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Next-Door Neighbors' Feud Ends in Slaying

December 06, 1996|KATE FOLMAR and DAVID R. BAKER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SIMI VALLEY — A festering feud between next-door neighbors ended Thursday morning in gunfire that left a 30-year-old construction worker dying on his front lawn.

Police arrested the alleged gunman, 27-year-old former Moorpark College student Christopher Charles Harbridge, as he fled the 4100 block of Helene Street in his minivan.

"It was a problem waiting to happen," said a tearful John Rowe of Palmdale, the victim's older brother.

Neighbors for almost a decade, Harbridge and slaying victim Ron Tracy Rowe would needle each other with such seemingly minor digs as depositing an unclaimed car steering wheel on the other's porch or spraying grass clippings on the other's freshly washed car. On Friday morning, after a shouting match on Rowe's lawn, police say Harbridge allegedly fired one shot from a handgun into the ground and a second into Rowe's chest at close range.

Rowe and Harbridge were former Simi Valley High School students and were on-again, off-again friends, but they brawled and bickered frequently. Rowe would often get the best of Harbridge, said John Turgeon, 31, who said he was a friend of both men.

Both Rowe and Harbridge had several run-ins with the law, according to court records.

Rowe was arrested and tried for battery against his next-door neighbor in 1995, and vandalism and fighting earlier this year. Harbridge was arrested in 1993 and convicted of vandalism in slashing the tires of a cable company truck while his service was being disconnected.

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