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Argument Turns Deadly for Two

Shooting: A gunman in Anaheim kills a pregnant woman and injures her brother before turning the weapon on himself.

August 18, 1999|JAMES MEIER and MEGAN GARVEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An 18-year-old woman who friends and family say was three months' pregnant was shot and killed Tuesday morning when she tried to stop an argument between her brother and a man living in the converted garage of her family's Anaheim home, police said. The gunman, believed to be in his late 20s, also wounded the woman's 16-year-old brother before committing suicide by turning the gun on himself.

The dead man and his victim, Erika Garcia Prieto, were discovered after an hourlong standoff during which police surrounded the home in the 900 block of North Maple Street. Officers evacuated about a dozen nearby residences.

Inside the house during the shootings and their aftermath was Prieto's 3-year-old half-sister, left behind when other family members fled. The child slept through the whole drama, Anaheim police spokesman Sgt. Joe Vargas said.

Police responded to the scene shortly after 8:20 a.m. after neighbors reported shots. They found the 16-year-old, Ernesto Garcia Prieto, running from the garage with a gunshot wound to his hip. He told police that his sister was still inside with the gunman and needed help, Vargas said.

Police blocked off the residential street, then used the hostage rescue unit--a tank-like vehicle called the "Peacekeeper"--to drive up to the garage and pull Erika Garcia Prieto from the crime scene. She had been shot in the head; paramedics were unable to save her.

The dead gunman was discovered when police approached the house a second time to rescue the 3-year-old.

Police said they were unsure why the argument between two men--who had a history of fighting--turned deadly. Ernesto Prieto lives next door.

"We think this may have been an argument about the man moving out because the family was planning to move to another city," Vargas said. The gunman had been renting the illegal garage apartment from the victims' parents for about two years.

"The sister came out to the garage and tried to get between the two men and was shot," Vargas said.

The gunman, who police said used several names, was not immediately identified.

Neighbors expressed shock and sorrow over Prieto's death. The young woman had just graduated from Savanna High School. "She was a good kid," Carleen Quinonez said.

Ernesto Prieto was listed in fair condition late Tuesday at UCI Medical Center in Orange.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Fatal Argument

Police said a gunman committed suicide Tuesday morning after wounding a teenage boy he was arguing with and killing the boy's pregnant sister when she tried to intervene.

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