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Fistfight leads to gunfire

Family disturbance spills onto street, man starts shooting

Posted: August 24, 2008 8:38 p.m.
Updated: October 26, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

PALMDALE - A pleasant Sunday afternoon drive turned into a harrowing experience for a Quartz Hill family caught in the middle of gunfire that erupted on an open street.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m., a middle-aged man and woman driving in a white compact car with their teenage son came across two men fistfighting on Avenue N near 23rd Street West.

"We were on the street, on our way to take some mail to someone," said the father, as he and his family stood under the scant shade of a tree on Avenue N, still shaken from the ordeal.

"These two men were fighting, fistfighting, when one of them went to the trunk of his car, got out a gun and started shooting," he said. "Harrowing? Yes, harrowing. Scary."

The terrified family narrowly escaped being hit in the gunfire that followed the heated argument in the middle of the road.

Asked if it appeared the two combatants were motorists arguing over a motor vehicle incident, showing signs of road rage, the father said "no."

The family, later interviewed as witnesses to the shooting, asked The Signal that they not be identified.

"They almost hit us," said the woman, describing how close the bullets came to hitting their car.

The father said as soon as the gunfire started he sped east on Avenue N, pulling over at 22nd Street West.

A resident who lives at that intersection and who brought water to Palmdale Sheriff's deputies re-routing traffic on Avenue N, told the officers he heard at least three shots, thinking they were firecrackers.

A dog-handling officer with the Canine Unit, who was in Santa Clarita on an unrelated call at the time of the shooting, was called in to assist the investigators looking for the shooter who had reportedly run into one of the houses.

In the end, the police dog was not used in helping officers locate the suspect.

"He went to his car and got a gun from the trunk and started firing," said the mother, who was the driver of the car almost hit by gunfire. "He shot at one of these guys."

As investigating officers sealed off an area around the intersection, they told the family members who witnessed the shooting to wait a block away.

Investigators took at least a couple of people in for questioning.

At one point they searched backyards for a man believed to have been involved in the argument who ran and hid.

Los Angeles County Child Services was called on to look after at least four children including two babies, a four-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.

Although people were shaken up, no one was reportedly hurt and no one shot.

Deputies with the Palmdale Sheriff's Department stopped traffic around the intersection while they tried to figure out who was involved in the argument.

At about 2:45 p.m., investigators asked the family to return to the scene where sheriff's deputies continued with their investigation.

Several people were detained and taken to the sheriff's station.

No charges have yet been filed in connection with the incident, said a sheriff's spokesman.

"We have a number of people in the station right now being interviewed," Palmdale Sheriff's Department Sgt. Jeff Acton told The Signal.

"At this point, what we have is a family disturbance that spilled out into the street," he said. "Shots were fired. One person seems to have been responsible.

"We have no confirmation that anyone was hit," he explained. "The California Highway Patrol just happened to be in the area and helped out."

Sgt. Acton confirmed that no one was injured in the exchange of gunfire.

"People ran back into a nearby house. We contained a perimeter around the house, searched it and recovered a gun."

Investigating officers believe the firearm recovered in the house is the one used in the shooting.

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