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THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT

Ordered Out of Their Home, Couple Wandered for Hours

March 02, 1997|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN and ANN W. O'NEILL | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

As chaos surrounded them on Friday morning, Walter Milosevich and his wife, Mary, were oblivious to the sirens, the spurts of automatic gunfire, and the buzzing helicopters.

He was on the phone, trying to get through to her doctors. She was in bed, where she spends most of her hours since a coma sapped her strength last September.

At 10:30 a.m., Walter, who is 77, peered out the window and saw a police officer in his yard.

"I was wondering, 'What the hell was going on?' " he recalled. "Can I help you?" he asked, stepping out the front door.

Three officers, their guns drawn, crept into the house the couple has shared on Radford Street for more than 30 years.

Los Angeles police, believing that a bank robbery suspect was hiding in their backyard shed, ordered them out of the house about 11 a.m.

He told his 67-year-old wife, "The police have come, so you better get dressed." Then, he said, "I put the wife in the wheelchair, put a blanket around her, and wheeled her out the front door."

As their exile grew beyond just a few hours, the couple tried reaching their son, Ivan, in Santa Clarita, but only got his answering machine because he was out looking for them.

By day's end, Walter had pushed Mary's wheelchair for miles. A police battering ram had flattened their back wall and shed. Their garage door was peeled away, the roof of Mary's car was crushed and tear gas canisters littered the floor.

Around 7 p.m., Ivan spotted his parents at the Circle Liquor store.

They climbed into his van and spent the next three hours there getting warm, until police let them back into their home. As it turned out, there was no suspect hiding in the shed.

A police captain said late Saturday that a department representative had been sent to the couple's house to discuss the damage and possible compensation. But Ivan Milosevich said his parents have yet to hear from a city or police official.

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