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Burglar Fatally Shot by Card Shop Owner

The proprietor of a Lancaster memorabilia store surprises the man during a 3 a.m. break-in.

August 20, 2003|Wendy Thermos | Times Staff Writer

A Lancaster shop owner, sleeping overnight in his back office because he'd twice been victimized by thieves, shot and killed a burglar early Tuesday, sheriff's deputies said.

The owner of Bases, Cards and Comics, a sports memorabilia store, had been staying there "pretty much every night" for the last two months to thwart further theft, Sgt. Shawn McCarthy said.

Detectives preliminarily concluded that the fatal shooting of James Patrick Cassidy, 40, was justified, because the shopkeeper said Cassidy threatened him with a tire iron during the 3 a.m. break-in, McCarthy said. "I have no reason to doubt his story."

Cassidy, whose hometown had not been determined by coroner's investigators, died of a gunshot wound to the upper body.

McCarthy declined to identify the store owner, who told deputies he had been in business for about 10 years.

The shopkeeper was awakened by the back door being forced open, Deputy Scott Butler said. Arming himself with a handgun, the store owner crept down a hallway and encountered an intruder, who raised a tire iron as if to strike, investigators said. The owner fired once and struck Cassidy at close range, they said.

Paramedics pronounced Cassidy dead at the scene in the 1300 block of West J Street.

"It appears the owner was defending himself; that tire iron could have killed him," Butler said. The case will be presented to the district attorney's office for review, but no charges are expected to be filed, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.

The shop owner, whom McCarthy described as traumatized by the shooting, told deputies he had been burglarized two months ago. Homicide investigators were looking for that report and another filed about a year ago to verify the owner's statement that he had been a crime victim and was guarding his merchandise, the sergeant said.

"Some of those trading cards are worth a lot of money," McCarthy said. "He told us it would be easy to grab a couple of boxes off a shelf and have a couple hundred dollars worth of stuff."

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