Police Kill Man Suspected in Slaying Near Sun Valley Park

Times Staff Writer

A man armed with a shotgun was shot and killed by police Wednesday in a Sun Valley parking lot after he shot another man to death and fired indiscriminately into a nearby park, Los Angeles police said.

The shootings were believed to have been triggered by a drug deal that went sour half an hour earlier in Sun Valley Park, across the street from a small shopping center in the 8000 block of Vineland Avenue, Lt. Charles Higbie said.

Two other men were slightly wounded in the 1:30 p.m. incident, police said.

Retrieved Gun From Home

The drug deal in the park became hostile and turned into a knife fight, Higbie said. One of the men involved in the fight, Dennis R. Hensley, 34, of North Hollywood, left to retrieve a shotgun from his home, Higbie said.

Hensley returned to the park and spotted John M. Sell, 22, of Burbank, who police believe was associated with the men involved in the knife fight, Higbie said. Hensley "fired a number of shotgun rounds" at Sell, who was found next to a shopping center trash bin across the street, Higbie said.

Hensley then went back to the park and "indiscriminately began shooting at a number of people," none of whom was wounded, the lieutenant said.

Three plainclothes police officers chased Hensley back across the street and into the shopping center parking lot, Higbie said. Two of the officers, Lawrence P. Skiba, 40, and Ronald A. Miller, 40, were passing the park when they heard gunshots, Higbie said. A third officer, Ronald S. Troncone, 42, had been taking fingerprints nearby on an unrelated investigation, Higbie said.

Ran Toward Motorcycle

Hensley apparently was running toward his motorcycle, parked in the lot, when he opened fire on the three officers, who returned fire and killed him, police said.

The shotgun lay in front of an automobile behind which lay Hensley's body.

Higbie said Hensley had fired "eight to 10" shots at the officers, who were not wounded.

Another man who police believe was involved in the knife fight was hospitalized with minor injuries but not arrested, Higbie said.

A fourth man, Arteino Garcia, 60, of North Hollywood, apparently became engaged in a fight with Hensley in the parking-lot area and also was slightly injured, Higbie said.

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