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Police Kill Man in Home After Woman Is Stabbed

Violence: Ventura SWAT team shoots 43-year-old after long standoff. His ex-girlfriend dies later of multiple stab wounds.

December 05, 1998|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT and MARINA MALIKOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — Ending a dramatic daylong standoff, Ventura police shot and killed a man after he fatally stabbed his estranged girlfriend in the couple's home.

Roland E. Sheehan, who had a history of violence, had kept about 40 police officers at bay since dawn Friday at a two-story house he owned with his ex-girlfriend, Vicki Shade, 35, in the 7000 block of Wolverine Street.

Shade, who had taken out restraining orders against Sheehan, died Friday evening at Ventura County Medical Center after suffering multiple stab wounds to her chest.

The standoff in the eastside neighborhood began shortly after 6 a.m. when neighbors heard screams and called police, witnesses said.

Police said Sheehan, 43, had cut the phone lines to the house and broken in through a window, forcing Shade's roommate, the roommate's son and two of Shade's children--a 17-month-old daughter whose father is Sheehan, and an 11-year-old girl--to flee.

A fourth child, the roommate's 4-year-old daughter, slept through the commotion and was freed about 8 a.m., police said.

As the SWAT team surrounded the house, Sheehan, armed with a butcher knife, barricaded himself and Shade in her second-floor master bedroom, Ventura Police Lt. Gary McCaskill said.

Using a telephone provided by police, Sheehan spoke briefly with hostage negotiators in the morning but tossed the phone out the top-floor window after becoming angry during afternoon talks with police.

"He simply did not want to come out and he broke off negotiations," McCaskill said.

Shortly before 4 p.m., heavily armed officers fired tear gas and flash-bang devices into a bedroom window but saw no movement, McCaskill said.

SWAT team members who had been hiding inside the house then broke down the bedroom door and fired at Sheehan several times, police said. A woman's screams and a man's shouts could be heard moments after the shots.

Authorities refused to disclose whether Sheehan had lunged at officers with the knife.

The shooting was the first time since the unit was formed in 1970 that Ventura Police SWAT team members have shot and killed a person, Police Lt. Carl Handy said.

Sheehan died minutes later at Ventura County Medical Center, according to the coroner's office. An autopsy is scheduled today.

The standoff ended a tumultuous two-year relationship between Sheehan, a self-employed Ventura carpenter known as "Ronnie," and Shade, a soft-spoken but well-liked hair stylist who had worked for the past year at a downtown salon, friends said.

"The first time I met him [Sheehan], the hair on the back of my neck stood on end," said Cynthia DeLeon, whose husband owns Michael Kelley Salon and Day Spa on Main Street, where Shade worked.

Shade's friends said he built cabinets and did other carpentry work at the salon when it opened but that he was turned down for a repair contract when the salon was gutted by a fire several weeks ago.

"They didn't want him around because they knew he wasn't nice to Vicki," said Yalang Hollingsworth, who moved in with Shade about a month ago after both were temporarily out of work because of the fire.

Shade and Sheehan's relationship ended when she kicked him out of their house about six months ago, friends said.

But after he left, she obtained restraining orders and was constantly calling police to report crimes that ranged from physical abuse to stalking, authorities said. At one point, the district attorney's office gave Shade one of the cell phones that are handed out to victims of domestic violence.

For the last two weeks Shade and Hollingsworth had been sleeping with telephones nearby, fearing trouble. As recently as Thursday night, Sheehan followed Shade home from her church, Hollingsworth said.

"Unlike a lot of women, she called police and she was on it," Hollingsworth said. "I think she did everything she could to protect herself. She was persistent."

Court records show Sheehan had numerous run-ins with police in recent years. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to a single charge of drug possession and was ordered to participate in a two-year work program through the probation department.

In January, he was charged with illegal drug use, to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years' probation.

In September, Sheehan was arrested by Ventura police and charged with stalking, domestic battery and more than a dozen violations of a protective order, according to court records.

After a preliminary hearing last month in which Shade testified, Sheehan was ordered to stand trial on 18 counts. But when he failed to appear for a late November Superior Court arraignment, an arrest warrant was issued.

Shortly before, Sheehan was bailed out of jail by a friend after serving several weeks for violating a restraining order Shade had filed against him.

Police were also looking into reports that Sheehan had served time after a fatal barroom brawl in New York state, Handy said.

The standoff Friday caught the attention of dozens of neighbors, who camped out on their front lawns to watch. Some said police had been to the house several times when the couple were together but that the magnitude of Friday's incident was surprising.

"You don't expect this in your quiet little neighborhood," neighbor Terry Marshall said.

*

Times staff writers Tina Dirmann and Tracy Wilson contributed to this report.

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