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Pasadena shooting suspect to crisis negotiator: 'I killed someone'

Pasadena police hold news conference regarding Saturday shooting

A gunman accused of killing three people and injuring two in Pasadena over the weekend surrendered after a tense dialogue with an emergency services operator, officials said Monday.

John Izeal Smith, 44, allegedly fired more than 40 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon Saturday. He then barricaded himself in a Summit Avenue home and called the police department's communication center, officials said at a Pasadena news conference.

Diane Marin, the emergency operator who fielded Smith's call, recounted the accused gunman's first words to her.

"He said, 'I killed someone,'" Marin said at the news conference.

Smith surrendered to Pasadena SWAT officers outside the home after speaking for 20 minutes with Marin, who was assisted by a crisis negotiator.

Smith is accused of shooting and killing Luis Fernando, 90, at the home on the 1700 block of Summit Avenue. Maria Teresa Aguiar, 59, fled from the home and was gunned down outside, said Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez.

A police officer responding to the incident spotted Aguiar on the sidewalk and attempted to render aide when he came under heavy gunfire from Smith, Sanchez said. The officer became pinned behind a patrol car and was uninjured.

At the news conference, officials showed images of a pockmarked police vehicle with a flattened tire.

Jose Hernandez Iribe, 31, a neighbor whom police called a "good Samaritan," was north of the shooting and "ran toward the gunfire." Smith then pointed the gun at Iribe, fatally wounding him, Sanchez said. 

Two others suffered "moderate" injuries during the hour-long ordeal, Sanchez said. One was treated on the scene and released. The other was treated and released at a hospital.

A motive for the shooting remains under investigation, but Sanchez said a landlord-tenant dispute and a "long-term relationship" between the suspect and victims appear to be "main themes." 

Smith was armed with two assault rifles and one semiautomatic pistol, but the gunfire came from one weapon, said Sanchez, adding that the weapons were purchased legally. Police do not have information about Smith's mental capacity or whether he had any history of mental illness.

Before Saturday, there had been two homicides in Pasadena in 2014, according to The Times' Homicide Report. Sanchez noted that the city has a low violent crime rate.

"It doesn’t shake the confidence of the police department, but it does beg where humanity is and where society is," Sanchez said. "It does beg questions about gun laws. It does beg questions about responsible gun ownership.”

Pasadena Mayor William Bogaard pressed the nation to "enact and live up to responsible gun safety laws."

"This shooting is another example of the senseless gun violence affecting communities across the nation," he added. "To the list of Sandy Hook, Stockton, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Isla Vista, we now add Pasadena.”

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @debbietruong or email her at debbie.truong@latimes.com

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