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Man Fires Into Building, Kills 1 of 15 Occupants

Times Staff Writer

A gunman fired as many as 20 bullets from a rifle into an Echo Park duplex Sunday where 15 adults and children lived, killing one man behind the shattering windows and wounding two sleeping residents, police said. The gunman, who witnesses said had been drinking heavily, later was killed by police.

Investigators said Los Angeles Police Sgt. John Wickham confronted the gunman, Jose Coreas, as he was sitting in a parked pickup truck.

Wickham shouted orders in English and Spanish for Coreas to drop his weapon, but the gunman looked at the officer and began to work the lever on a .30-.30 Winchester, police said. Wickham fired his revolver three times, fatally wounding Coreas, police said. Coreas died four hours later at Queen of Angels Medical Center.

It was not known what prompted Coreas to pick up the rifle at about 7 a.m. and go stalking the exterior of the duplex at 921 N. Benton Way.

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As many as 15 to 20 bullets may have pierced the duplex and its windows and Coreas appeared to have gone back to the pickup to reload at least once. Ammunition was found in the truck, police said.

Officers entered the building and found Santos Chicas, 32, dead from a head wound. Chicas reportedly was a contractor and was preparing to go to work when the gunfire erupted.

Anna Hernandez, 23, was shot in the abdomen and was taken to County-USC Medical Center in critical condition. Juan Saravia, 30, was listed in fair condition at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank with a wound in his buttocks. Both were shot as they slept.

At least a dozen other people were in the building but were unhurt.

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The victims apparently knew Coreas but there was no indication that any argument preceded the incident.

Police said Coreas, who was between 30 and 35 years old, lived in a converted garage behind the duplex for about two months. It was not known what he did for a living.


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