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Motive Is Unclear in Attack on Sheriff Station

August 07, 2003|Amanda Covarrubias and Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writers

Ventura County sheriff's officials said Wednesday they might never know what motivated a Newbury Park man to fire on the department's east county station, setting off a gun battle with officers that ended in the gunman's death.

Undersheriff Craig Husband said the department was assessing what could be done to improve safety and security at the Thousand Oaks station.

"We're evaluating all security procedures," Husband said.

About 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, Gregg Wynn Hackett, 48, pulled into the parking lot of the sheriff's station on Olsen Road and began firing at the entrance to the building with two high-caliber handguns, authorities said.

Deputies and officers inside the station responded with a volley of gunfire that lasted five to 10 minutes, sheriff's spokesman Eric Nishimoto said.

No one else was seriously injured, but some employees were cut by glass.

Detectives were still trying to determine Wednesday what led Hackett, about whom little is known, to fire on the two-story building where about 100 people work.

"Sometimes it's very, very difficult to speculate on a motive, and in this case we can't say when we'll know why he did it," Nishimoto said. "Maybe we'll never know."

Among those who returned fire were officers from law enforcement agencies attending a training class in a room near the front of the building, Husband said.

The large, mirrored-glass window of their meeting room was shattered by gunfire.

Husband said investigators determined that six officers -- four from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department and one each from the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department -- fired and hit Hackett.

While some officers were firing from within the building, other deputies and detectives ran out the back and around the building to shoot at Hackett, Husband said.

Nishimoto said Wednesday it was too soon to say how many rounds were fired by Hackett and the officers. Making matters more difficult, officials said, the visiting officers' agencies would have to investigate the incident as an officer-involved shooting.

"Having multiple agencies obviously complicates this," Husband said. "We will conduct simultaneous investigations, conduct a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation to review the actions of the officers."

The station on Olsen Road in Thousand Oaks remained closed to the public Wednesday, the structure cordoned off by yellow police tape as detectives continued collecting and analyzing evidence.

Hackett's red Acura remained in the parking lot as key evidence.

"We will process the crime scene, get search warrants for the vehicle and his residences and any other location that might help us glean information on his motive," Husband said. "Background checks will be made on Hackett to determine what led to this."

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