A 16-year-old burglary suspect who allegedly surprised an Orange County homeowner in his living room Thursday was shot three times and remains in an intensive care unit, Orange police said.
The homeowner, Kevin Ralph Gull, 32, said Thursday that he has kept a loaded .22-caliber handgun in his home since last year’s panic over the string of slayings attributed to the so-called Night Stalker.
The suspect, who police said drove himself home in his Volkswagen, arrived at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana about an hour later with three gunshot wounds and was arrested on suspicion of burglary, Orange police said.
The youth, whose name was withheld because of his age, is in serious condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Police turned him over to the custody of his father, who had driven his son to the hospital.
No charges have been filed against Gull, and an investigation is continuing, police spokesman Robert Gustafson said.
Gull said he was still “a little bit shaky” Thursday night from the incident and “wondering if maybe I broke the law and am going to be in trouble for it.”
“I was told detectives would be contacting me,” said the computer programmer, who works out of his two-story condominium in the 6000 block of Cadbury Drive in east Orange.
Gull said he was concerned about the teen-ager. “I don’t wish him to die or to be paralyzed, is all,” he said. “On the other hand, I don’t think he got something he didn’t deserve.”
Gull said that shortly before 12:30 p.m., he heard a persistent ringing at his front door. He said he “took his time” walking downstairs to answer it, thinking it was a salesperson.
Instead, Gull said, he saw a young man in a light-colored jump suit removing the screen from his dining room window. He said he stole back upstairs to get his gun. When he came back down, Gull said, he surprised the thin, dark-haired youth at the foot of the stairs, near his television and video tape recorder.
“I told him to hold it right there, and I pointed my gun at him,” Gull said. “He said ‘OK,’ and I told him to get face down onto the floor and hold it right there while I called the police.
“He seemed fairly cooperative and asked me not to shoot him, to let him go,” Gull said. “I said, ‘I’m very nervous so just hold it right there and don’t move.’ ”
Gull said he backed through an open door into his den to telephone the emergency 911 line. As he gave emergency dispatchers his address, he said, the youth “jumped up and bolted toward the window while I still had the gun on him.”
Gull said he dropped the telephone and chased the intruder out of his home through the same rear window he had come in. “I felt I had to do something, so I fired my gun three times, very low in his direction. He was maybe 50 to 100 feet away.”
“I didn’t really intend to hit him, and I didn’t think I had hit him,” he said. “My intent was to get him to stop. . . . Once he heard the shots, I figured he’d stop right there. If anything, it made him go faster.”
Gull said he returned to the condominium and told dispatchers that the burglary suspect had fled. Police arrived within minutes to take a report. Gull’s fingerprints were later taken to police headquarters, apparently, he said, to distinguish between his prints and those of the intruder.
In the meantime, according to police, the youth, who had been shot in the side, hip and leg, drove home in his 1964 Volkswagen. “His father drove him to Western Medical Center,” Gustafson said.
Emergency room officials notified police at 1:16 p.m. that a shooting victim had been admitted to the hospital. Orange police officers responded and the juvenile was arrested on suspicion of burglary.
Gustafson said the youth was admitted into intensive care for shock and loss of blood. “But it looks like he is going to make it,” he said.
Gustafson said the results of the investigation will be submitted to the district attorney’s office for review and possible prosecution. “We want to be doubly careful,” he said, but would not elaborate.
Gull, who was alone in his condominium at the time of the incident, said his wife, Joan, 27, has now changed her mind about not wanting loaded guns around the house.
He said he felt he had done nothing wrong and that the intruder “took his life into his hands” when he broke in. “He could have stayed where he was, but he chose not to,” Gull said. “The only reason he got shot was because he ran.”