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Woman Shot in Stomach After Honking at Graffiti Vandals

February 19, 1997|THAO HUA and GEOFF BOUCHER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

ORANGE — She could have looked the other way. She could have kept driving. Instead, the 40-year-old Anaheim woman said, she was shot for taking a stand against a group of spray-paint vandals and now fears for her life.

Dazed and still afraid, the woman said Tuesday that she is recovering from a gunshot wound to her stomach and hopes to be out of the hospital by week's end. But the fear created by Monday night's attack is still fresh in her mind.

"The police said they won't give out my name, so don't use it," she said from a local hospital, where she was listed in good condition. "I don't want to talk about what happened. Not yet."

Police say the woman was terrorized and shot by suspected street gang members when she interrupted them about 8 p.m. Monday as they were spray-painting graffiti on a garage door.

The woman was driving down the street when she spotted the youths, honked her van horn and waved, hoping to scare them off, according to the victim and police. Instead, the vandals turned on her, police said.

One of the youths approached her van and used white spray paint to scrawl a gang sign on the front windshield and right side window, Orange Police Lt. Ed Tunstall said.

The frightened woman gunned her engine and tried to escape. Before she could, some of the other youths drove by in a turquoise 1960s car with a white vinyl or convertible top, Tunstall said. One of the youths in the car fired several shots at the woman, including one that pierced the van and struck her in the stomach, the lieutenant said.

The woman, who is a bus driver and part-time accounting worker, told police after surgery Tuesday that she had been on her way to visit a friend when she saw the vandals. After the shooting, the woman proceeded to her friend's nearby home and sat in her van yelling for help. A man ran to assist her while a woman dialed 911.

The man, whose identity is not being released to protect him from gang retribution, said the woman was screaming, "They shot me! They shot me!"

"She was in quite a bit of agony," the man said.

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