Anderson denied that he and the children were close friends and said he had called the Ventura Police Department once in the days leading up to his threatening gesture that brought police to the door. He said he ended that call before a report could be taken, and his daughter suggested he may have gotten confused during the call and hung up.
Lt. Quinn Fenwick said there is no record of any calls from the house about any incidents. More important, Fenwick said, it should be clear that pulling a rifle on someone is never a good idea.
"Obviously, pointing weapons at kids playing 'ding-dong-ditch-it' is inappropriate," Fenwick said. "We believe we handled this appropriately by evaluating Mr. Anderson and recognizing that the conduct was inappropriate."
Fenwick said officers detained Anderson but did not book him on gun charges because "they realized right away that Mr. Anderson was not in possession of his full faculties." Instead, he was later taken to Vista Del Mar for observation.
Linda Robertson, a neighbor who telephoned Anderson when the police arrived and urged him to come out of his house, said she often worried about his well-being but was rebuffed when she suggested he use Meals on Wheels or other services for seniors.
"He didn't hardly eat," she said of Anderson, who lived off his monthly Social Security check and a savings account he had amassed over the years. "I would give him bread. I don't think he went to the store very much."
Anderson's story is not uncommon, said Sandra McMullen, program director for the Alzheimer's Assn. of Ventura County.
"He's not unusual, believe me," McMullen said. "We just don't know where they are."
She said about 12,000 people across the county, including some under 65, have some form of Alzheimer's disease. McMullen and others who study this area's aging trends say the number will most likely grow as baby boomers reach retirement age during the next 20 years.
"The people we talk to are not prepared and they have not thought about it," said Sylvia Taylor, executive director of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman of Ventura County. "They are not prepared at all."