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Man Kills Neighbor Who Made Complaint

Shooting: Gunman also dies, perhaps from a ricochet, after he ambushes victim in San Clemente. Note said second killing planned.

April 02, 2002|DAVE McKIBBEN and PHIL WILLON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A San Clemente man on Monday shot and killed a downstairs neighbor who for weeks had complained about the loud noise and music coming from his apartment, authorities said.

The victim, Jaroslav Liska, 47, was gunned down in the complex's carport about 9 a.m., shortly after witnesses heard shouting. Moments later, the suspect, Peter Mehran, 25, also died, suffering a head wound that police said may have been caused by a ricochet from his own semiautomatic pistol.

Police also found a handwritten note inside Mehran's car describing plans for a second, unrelated killing--including details about how he would change his appearance and dispose of the evidence afterward, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Neighbors in the community, just a few blocks from the beach, expressed shock at how a routine feud between neighbors could turn into a shooting rampage with at least a dozen rounds fired.

"It's hard to believe," said Jerry Anderson, who owns the building. "Maybe it was [as simple as] noise from walking around ... that was upsetting to the bottom unit."

Neighbors heard shouting and then a flurry of gunfire outside the Baha Park Apartments at 3204 Avenida del Presidente.

Witnesses told police that Mehran was waiting for the victim in the carport.

Liska's girlfriend and at least one neighbor witnessed the shooting, Amormino said.

"I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and I heard pop-pop-pop-pop!--about 12 shots," said Donald Morin, 36, a personal trainer who lives in the apartment complex next door.

Morin said he saw the gunman firing wildly under the cement carport.

"It looked like he was shooting at random: He was shooting toward the right and shooting to the left, like he was mad. Then he shot one up in the air," Morin said. "He shot up right in the air. The carport's overhang was right above him. It looked like it ricocheted and hit him."

Investigators are still trying to determine whether the gunman turned the gun on himself or was killed by a stray bullet, Amormino said. Police initially suspected suicide, he said.

Because of fears that there might be a second gunman, police cordoned of the block, and a sheriff's SWAT unit swept through the apartment complex, igniting a flash grenade in the gunman's apartment. Nothing suspicious was found, and police believe Mehran acted alone.

The playground at Concordia Elementary School is just yards away, but the school was empty Monday because of spring break.

The apartment building's owner said the gunman had been living there for about two months and had never caused trouble.

The victim made several complaints about noise from the apartment above him, he said.

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Times staff writer Tina Borgatta contributed to this story.

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