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Paint-Ball Victim Declared Dead

Crime: Newport Beach skater was shot with pellets two weeks ago. Police are still looking for his assailants.

April 08, 2002|DAVID REYES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Newport Beach in-line skater who was critically injured last month after being struck by paint-ball pellets, causing him to fall and strike his head, was declared dead Saturday.

Gary M. Holdren, 54, had been in a coma at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo since March 24, when he was shot by several assailants while skating at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve.

On Sunday, more than 50 relatives and friends held a memorial walk for Holdren where he fell.

Holdren's fiancee, Bonita Young, 48, said she is angry and amazed that no one has come forward to identify three boys who Newport Beach police believe shot the pellets from a bluff overlooking the street where Holden was skating.

"I handed out fliers and spent the morning talking to people," Young said Sunday.

"We gave out T-shirts that said, 'Speak Out for Gary.'

"I'm so angry. I want people to get outraged in the community."

Young, a marketing professional, said she plans to attend a Newport Beach City Council meeting and to speak to local school officials to stir up interest in the case and find Holdren's assailants.

She said more needs to be done to stop attacks in the park.

"People have been throwing rocks and bottles out there. This has been going on for a long time, and this is not going to stop until we get the parents involved," she said.

"I'm furious. I mean, there are parents who bought these paint guns, and they've been silent."

Police have continued the investigation and worked "long into the night" Saturday after they received word that Holdren had been declared dead, said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Frederick Heinecke.

Police intend to examine the autopsy report, he said.

The Paintball Products Manufacturers Assn. is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter.

Informants are asked to call police at (800) 550-6273.

Holdren was a salesman for Sulzer Carbomedics, an Austin, Texas, manufacturer of heart-valve replacement and repair products.

Doctors harvested several of Holdren's organs to help other people, Young said.

A memorial service is planned for this week.

He is survived by a brother, Mark, of Rochester, N.Y., and a daughter, Kristie, of Aliso Viejo.

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