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Adelanto Boy Plays Dead to Survive Dad's Rampage

March 16, 2004|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

ADELANTO, Calif. — After seeing his mother shot to death at the kitchen table, a fourth-grader survived his father's rampage Sunday afternoon by playing dead after he was shot in the arm, then riding his bicycle two miles to the house of a family friend.

Aaron Kinard, who turned 9 on Monday, told authorities he was eating cookies and sipping milk when his father pulled out the gun and started shooting. Wounded, Aaron slumped to the floor and remained motionless until his father shot himself and fell dead to the floor.

"I saw some blood on his arm and he told me his parents were both dead; that he saw his dad shoot his mom in the back and then shoot himself in the head," said Blanche Cuccia, one of the neighbors who helped the wounded boy until paramedics and police arrived. "He was clearly in shock. It was like he was wanting to cry, but no tears were coming."

The father was identified as Oscar Lawrence, 83, a former security guard who told neighbors he was once a minister at a Los Angeles church.

San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators said Lawrence apparently killed the boy's mother, Anita Kinard, 44, after an argument at their house in the dry high-desert town. Kinard was Lawrence's longtime girlfriend.

"There had been a history of arguments in that household," said homicide Det. Sgt. Tom Bradford. "[Aaron] saw his mother get shot in the kitchen, and then his dad turned the gun on [Aaron], firing at him twice."

The boy, grazed by a bullet in the upper right arm, slid under the kitchen table and remained still until he heard Lawrence walk away and fire the gun again, killing himself.

"The boy was extremely smart. Once he heard the other gunshot and heard his dad fall, he took off running," said Sgt. Mitch Dattilo. "For a kid that age to keep his wits about him in a situation like that is incredible."

Bleeding, Aaron ran to a neighbor's house in the 10800 block of Joshua Street and rang the doorbell. When no one answered, he hopped on his bicycle and rode two miles to the house of a close family friend. On Monday, a woman who answered the door at that house declined to comment.

Cuccia, who lived nearby and came over to help, said Aaron told her his parents were arguing about "the house," but did not know any more details.

"We might never know why [Lawrence] did what he did," Dattilo said.

Aaron was treated for his graze wound at Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville and was placed in the custody of San Bernardino County's Child Protective Services. Sheriff's officials said the boy, a pupil at Bradach Elementary School, may be turned over to an adult sibling who has expressed interest in caring for him.

The parents' beige, stucco two-story home is covered by weeds, wildflowers and a tall, dead tree in the frontyard. Neighbors said the couple were unassuming and nice. Aaron, described as shy and quiet, was often spotted riding his bike around neighborhood streets surrounded by sandy construction sites.

Neighbor Shirley McConnell, who drove the boy home from school each day, said she chatted with Lawrence every day: "He was never angry. In fact, he was bubbly. I never ever saw him not bubbly."

McConnell said Lawrence had told her and other neighbors that he had been a minister at a Los Angeles church and that he previously worked in Los Angeles County law enforcement. Lawrence had a security guard's license from 1992 to 1996, court records show.

Bob Nevin, who lives next to the Lawrence-Kinard home, said he never heard the couple arguing. He was "a generally nice guy," Nevin said. "This is just unbelievable."

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