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'A hard time' for alleged O.C. kidnapper

July 04, 2008|Paloma Esquivel | Times Staff Writer

A Lake Forest man wanted by authorities for allegedly shooting his estranged wife and kidnapping their 9-year-old son had recently been struggling to cope with a pending divorce and the loss of his job and home, friends and neighbors said Thursday.

"He was going through a hard time," roommate Randy Jick said of Lonnie Ramos, 46, who Orange County Sheriff's Department officials say shot and critically wounded his estranged wife with a handgun Wednesday when she went to pick up their son, Ryan, at the man's Lake Forest home. The couple's divorce, Jick said, has been "very bitter, very angry."

After the shooting, Ramos fled with the boy in a red Porsche, which he later traded for a rented RV, authorities said. Late Thursday, officials were still searching for the boy and his father.

The woman, meanwhile, was reported in critical but stable condition at a hospital. Though authorities did not release her name, she was identified in court documents and by friends as Gynnae Ramos.

Neighbors described Lonnie Ramos as a good father who cared for his son and had recently taken him to Legoland and a summer barbecue with friends. In addition to the divorce, he was facing financial problems, his roommate said.

About a month and a half ago, Jick said, he and Ramos decided to sell the home they had bought together in an upscale Lake Forest neighborhood three years ago, after the Ramoses filed for divorce. Jick said they could no longer afford the mortgage on the two-story tract house for which, according to state records, they paid $1.15 million.

Ramos, who has worked as a contractor and salesman, hasn't had a job in months, his roommate said.

On Wednesday when Ramos' soon-to-be-ex wife went to pick up their son, authorities said, he shot through the window of the car she was in, hitting her twice.

Authorities issued a statewide Amber Alert for the boy, who they believe is with his father in the rented RV, with California license plate 5EGW556. Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to call 911.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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