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Slaying Suspect Shot, Captured

Times Staff Writer

A gunman suspected of shooting to death two innocent bystanders, wounding another and kidnapping a couple was shot by Los Angeles police Monday morning in Van Nuys.

A woman was also arrested in the incident, but a second man, believed to be an accomplice in the shootings, escaped, police said.

The double slaying in the alley of a Sepulveda apartment building was apparently a random attack by two men who were angry over a New Year’s Eve drug deal gone awry, said police Lt. William Hall.

The identities of the two dead men were not released, pending notification of relatives. The wounded man, Timothy Brown, 24, was being treated at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where officials refused to disclose his condition.

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Edward T. Furnance, 23, who was shot once in the leg by police, was arrested on suspicion of murder. He was being held in the jail ward at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he was in stable condition, police said.

Sophina Newsome, 27, of Van Nuys, who is believed to have been involved in the drug deal, was also arrested on suspicion of murder.

Hall said Furnance and his accomplice, armed with automatic rifles, had gone to a Sepulveda apartment complex late Sunday night “to seek retaliation” against a resident apparently involved in the drug transaction.

“The dope deal had gone sour. There was a dispute and maybe a rip-off,” said Hall, who described the deal as “a small-time narcotics transaction.”

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Grabbed Man and Woman

On their way into the building, the two suspects grabbed a 22-year-old man and a 33-year woman who were talking outside. At gunpoint, the pair was ordered to accompany the men into the unit.

“We don’t know if they kidnapped them for cover or as hostages,” Hall said.

The gunmen, who were wearing ski masks, kicked down an apartment door, but found the unit vacant, police said.

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As they left, the gunmen, without provocation, fired at four men who were in an alley behind the apartment complex at 8861 Langdon Ave. Two men were killed, one was wounded, and the fourth man escaped the bullets by scrambling beneath a car.

“There is no motive in that shooting,” Hall said, adding that the gunmen did not argue with the bystanders and may have shot “out of frustration.”

After firing at the group, the gunmen released the couple unharmed, police said.

Police investigators determined early Monday morning that the gunmen had invaded the wrong apartment. The resident who was the gunmen’s alleged target later told police that Furnance may have been involved in the drug deal with Newsome, who lived in a Van Nuys apartment about three miles away, Hall said.

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Police did not release the identity of the man who apparently had been targeted for revenge. He was not arrested but was being questioned by detectives.

Two officers hid inside Newsome’s apartment at 15630 Vanowen Street for several hours Monday morning. Hall said Newsome is suspected of “setting up” the retaliatory shooting.

About 9:45 a.m., Furnance entered the locked unit with a key. Police said he was carrying the same kind of semiautomatic rifle that was used in the double shooting.

Furnace refused an order to drop the gun, police said, and was shot in the leg by an officer.

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Police, believing that the second suspect might also be in the building, ordered the evacuation of about 60 residents. The crowd stood for hours across the street, watching police and trained dogs search their apartments.

A police radio dispatcher warned of a “man with an Uzi” inside the three-story brown stucco complex. Police fired tear gas into a Jeep during their search for the accomplice.

Many residents said they did not know Newsome and did not know of the stakeout at their building until police issued the evacuation order.

“We knew there was a problem apartment with drug-dealing going on, but that’s about it until today,” said resident Mike Payton, 20. Residents were allowed back into their apartments at 1:30 p.m.

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Times staff writer David Colker contributed to this story.


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