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The Valley

Deputy's Confessed Killer Died of Gunshots

November 20, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

The gunman suspected of killing Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Douglas Sorensen in August died of multiple gunshot wounds after an intense battle with law enforcement officers in the Antelope Valley, authorities said Wednesday.

Donald Charles Kueck, a 52-year-old unemployed man with a criminal record, was killed Aug. 8 during an 8 1/2-hour standoff at a complex of outbuildings in a remote area near Lake Los Angeles, authorities said.

Coroner's spokesman David Campbell said Wednesday the cause of death was "multiple firearms wounds with other significant conditions as probable effects from thermal burns."

At the time of the incident, authorities were unsure whether Kueck had died from gunshots or from a fire sparked by tear gas canisters launched in an attempt to flush Kueck from his hide-out. Kueck's charred remains were found amid the burned buildings.

The tactics used by the Sheriff's Department are the focus of four independent reviews, authorities said. The probes are being conducted by the sheriff's homicide and internal affairs bureaus, the department's Office of Independent Review and the L.A. County district attorney.

Investigators are examining whether officers gave their negotiator enough time to end the standoff peacefully, if using so-called hot tear gas needlessly risked a fire and whether Sheriff Lee Baca's "dead or alive" directive pushed deputies toward a deadly conclusion.

On Aug. 2, Sorenson was shot to death outside Kueck's trailer home in Llano. Kueck admitted to a police negotiator that he had shot Sorenson.

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