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Man Made Fatal Error in Address

In Rancho Cucamonga, he mistook another's apartment for his and was shot after entering.

January 10, 2006|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

A man who was shot and killed in a Rancho Cucamonga apartment last week broke into the dwelling while intoxicated, believing it was his unit, authorities said.

Hector Soto, 21, had recently moved to the apartment complex from Oxnard to live with his brother and that night had been out celebrating his pending graduation from a local trade school, said his stepfather, Robert Ward.

Soto "was not a big drinker, but he was fairly well intoxicated after this grad party, so his friends drove him home," said San Bernardino County Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Bradford. "Well, all of these buildings in the complex look the same. He went to the wrong building, and the wrong unit."

A man living in the apartment, thinking Soto was an intruder, shot him.

Ward said that after Soto realized his key wouldn't open the unit's door about 2:50 a.m. Friday, he probably decided to climb through an open front window. He would have been reluctant to knock or ring the doorbell, to avoid waking up his brother, his brother's wife and their young daughter, Ward said.

Once inside the wrong unit, Soto took off his shirt and headed to the bathroom, where he was met by the occupant, a 65-year-old state prison counselor who lived with his wife, authorities said, declining to name the resident.

The resident "comes out of the bathroom, and all of a sudden he's thinking the boogeyman is inside of his house," Bradford said.

The pair scuffled in the bedroom. Soto briefly walked out of the bedroom, and the occupant pulled a gun from a nightstand, according to the account reported to deputies. Soto returned to the bedroom and approached the man until the man backed up against a wall. Cornered, the man fired one gunshot, Bradford said.

Soto was declared dead three hours later after undergoing surgery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.

The resident who fired the gun will not be charged, Bradford said.

Soto had no criminal history, Bradford said.

"My son never cussed, never got detention at school," Ward said. "He was a hero, an angel."

Bradford said: "It's tragic. A real mess. I don't believe Soto intended to hurt anybody."

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