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Police Seek Watch Repairman in Shooting

Search: The motive for the attack is still unknown as the search focuses in Compton, where a hijacked vehicle is found.

December 21, 2000|KURT STREETER and LOUIS SAHAGUN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Police searched desperately Wednesday for an employee of a Torrance watch repair shop wanted in the fatal shooting of a co-worker and the wounding of the owner.

The manhunt for Arnoldo Castellan Plascencia, 34, who also was reported to have shot at a bystander and carjacked an SUV, focused on a neighborhood near the Compton airport, where the hijacked vehicle was spotted outside his cousin's home.

Police and SWAT teams cordoned off an area there for about four hours. About 5 p.m., four people left the house, and police went in, but Plascencia wasn't there.

Police said Plascencia, a watch repairman, fatally shot Anthony Desherlia, 25, Tuesday at Timex Sales and Service, a small store in a Torrance strip mall, and then shot John Redfearn, their boss, in the face.

Redfearn was in stable condition Wednesday, and police still didn't know what prompted the attacks.

Plascencia fled the scene of the 4:20 p.m. shooting in his car, police said. In Gardena, he got into a small car wreck, abandoned his car and, after shooting at a woman in a passing car, carjacked a black Ford Explorer with a woman and her two children inside, according to police. He let them out a few blocks away.

On Wednesday morning, the Ford Explorer was spotted in the 2200 block of Corydon Street in Compton. Neighbors said it had been there all night.

By 1 p.m., police had cordoned off the area. Officers hid behind bushes and in backyards, lying in wait much of the afternoon in hopes someone would claim the car.

After the stakeout ended, a man who identified himself as the cousin's husband said Plascencia hadn't been at the house.

"He was here three months ago. I only talked to him for about 10 minutes [then]," he said. "We don't ask him many questions. He's dangerous."

At the Timex Sales and Service store, near the San Diego Freeway, streams of Redfearn's family members, friends and customers paid their respects Wednesday.

"John and his store have meant so much to this neighborhood," said Charlene Glass. "This was the place where everyone would go for their repairs."

Glass, like many others, said that during the last 15 years or so, she has come to know, not only Redfearn, but his employees. She said that Plascencia, known as "Ray" by customers, was a regular fixture in the store, usually sitting in the back, where he fixed watches. He was known to be quiet and serious.

Glass said that a few months ago, she noticed Plascencia had a small black handgun strapped to his waist. She assumed he wore it for store security.

"I wanted to say something to John, because this is a safe neighborhood; why would you need to have an employee carrying a gun?" she said. "I didn't think it was my place. Maybe I should have."

Another longtime customer, Seab Findley, said Plascencia had seemed stressed recently.

"He was having trouble with the workload," Findley said. Other workers in nearby stores said Plascencia had been complaining he had too much work.

"The place had a lot of customers when I went there Wednesday morning," said customer Lisa Clark. Clark said she saw the three workers together that morning, and her husband had noticed something odd. Redfearn, she said, "seemed tense, uneasy, not his usual self."

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