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Fountain Valley Man Shot Dead by Police at Door of His Home

Times Staff Writers

Two Fountain Valley police officers responding to a woman’s call for help on Wednesday shot and killed a man in a scuffle at the front door of his home, police and neighbors said.

It was the fourth time this year that police officers in Orange County have fired fatal shots in confrontations.

In the latest incident, Harry Owen Clark, 53, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and arm after he apparently fought with two officers at the front door of his home in the 9300 block of Daisy Avenue, according to Fountain Valley Police Lt. Rod Gillman.

Few Details Disclosed

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Gillman said Clark died at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center at 7:14 p.m., about two hours after being shot. The two officers involved in the shooting were not identified.

Police disclosed few details of the shooting and said that, in accordance with department policy, it was being investigated by the Orange County district attorney’s office.

According to initial police reports, the officers first responded to a disturbance call at 4:07 p.m. at the Bushard Market, where a woman identified as Norma Clark explained that she had been involved in a bitter argument with Harry Clark.

Neighbors in the quiet middle-class cluster of homes just off the San Diego Freeway said Harry Clark was Norma Clark’s former brother-in-law, but that they had lived together on and off for the last 10 years.

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Gillman said the officers escorted Norma Clark back to her beige, two-story tract home on Daisy Avenue, and “confirmed that the suspect was not there prior to leaving.”

An hour later, however, Gillman said the woman called from a neighbor’s home to complain that Harry Clark “had returned and was trying to kick the door to her home down.”

Two uniformed Fountain Valley police officers returned and, according to one neighbor, approached the house with their guns drawn.

Police said some kind of scuffle ensued at or near the front door and Harry Clark was shot. It was not clear just where Norma Clark was at the time of the shooting.

Gillman said he did not know if the victim was armed or how many times he was shot.

“As far as I know they are still determining time of death, the number of wounds and that kind of thing,” he said. “They have to look at the guns, check the deceased.”

Gillman said the shooting apparently took place “around the front door area, either just inside or just outside the door.”

First reports of the shooting indicated that one of the officers had suffered a broken arm in the fracas, but Gillman said X-rays at the hospital proved negative.

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“I don’t know what happened, but I know that the officers were hit with some kind of object other than a fist” before the shooting, he said.

Hours after the shooting, police officers and investigators from the district attorney’s office remained at the house collecting evidence and taking pictures. Knots of neighbors stood outside the house in the street and talked about what they had heard in the afternoon.

Argument Heard

One neighbor who lives down the street said several people had heard the Clarks arguing in the early afternoon, but that at 3:30 p.m., someone had seen Norma Clark at Bushard Market buying lottery tickets.

James Sigmond, who lives directly across the street from the Clarks, said that shortly after the shooting, Norma Clark called him from an undetermined location and asked what had happened at her house, indicating that she was not home at the time of the shooting.

Another neighbor, Richard Seymour, described Harry Clark as about 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing about 250 pounds. He said he recognized Clark as the man on the stretcher, covered with bandages on his chest and arm, as he was taken from the house to an ambulance.

Other residents said Norma Clark had been divorced for more than 10 years and had lived off and on with her former brother-in-law. They said she had two children from her marriage--a son in the Marine Corps and a daughter who no longer lives at home.

Earlier Shootings

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“They kept pretty much to themselves,” Seymour said. “The only time either was here was to pick up their dog when it strayed in our yard.”

Clark’s death was the fourth as a result of a police shooting in Orange County since the first of the year.

On Jan. 29, Garden Grove police shot and killed a man who allegedly pointed a toy gun at them. Four days later, on Feb. 2, Anaheim police shot and killed an unarmed man outside an Anaheim motel room near Disneyland.

On Feb. 19, a 26-year-old man was killed by Huntington Beach police after he allegedly charged at two officers with martial arts weapons.

The previous cases all are under investigation by the district attorney’s office.

Lt. Gillman said the officers involved in Wednesday’s shooting are on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation. Both will receive counseling, which is routinely given after officer-involved shootings.


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