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Couple Are Found Shot to Death, Son Wounded at Their Home in Fullerton

Times Staff Writer

Police discovered the bodies of a couple shot to death in their Fullerton home Saturday after their 34-year old son, himself twice wounded by gunshots, made his way to a neighbor’s house, banged on the door and then collapsed.

The son, Randy Ballusk, was listed in stable condition at UCI Medical Center in Orange on Saturday evening, suffering at least two gunshot wounds, one to the chest and one to the hip, according to Fullerton Police Sgt. Tony Hernandez.

His mother, Ruth Ballusk, 69, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Jude Hospital, where she was taken by paramedics. His father, Edward Ballusk, also 69, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators found a small-caliber handgun in the house, at 1423 Sudene Ave. Police declined to say if any suspects have been identified. Robbery has been eliminated as a motive in the early morning shootings, Hernandez said.

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“We’re not ruling out anything (else),” Hernandez said.

“As far as we know right now, three people have been shot, and we’re still trying to see who shot who,” Hernandez said.

Police and neighbors said Randy Ballusk made his way across Sudene Avenue to Dennis Berry’s door, leaving a trail of blood on the street. Berry’s wife, who declined to give her first name, said their family was awakened by a banging at the door.

“The door has a window, and my husband looked through it without opening the door and he saw a white male Caucasian lying on our front yard, and he called 911,” she said. “We didn’t know who it was.”

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She said that because it was dark outside, she did not realize the man on the lawn was Randy Ballusk until paramedics arrived.

Dennis Berry called police about 4:50, they said, and when investigators arrived, they found the couple, who had lived quietly in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, shot to death.

Hernandez said the older Ballusk was found in a bedroom, dressed in pajamas. His wife was found near the front door in the living room, which was in a state of disarray. Randy Ballusk, who sometimes lived with his parents, was found in street clothes, he said.

Hernandez said investigators are awaiting results of autopsies to determine how many bullets were fired and how many weapons were involved.

Investigators are also waiting to question Randy Ballusk, who has been under medication since he was taken to the hospital.

Not Real Coherent

“He hasn’t been real coherent,” Hernandez said. “He’s been receiving medication, and he sustained a couple of gunshots.”

Berry, who said her family was close to the Ballusks, said she did not know why the son came to her home rather than calling for help himself from his own.

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“He must have been in a great amount of shock,” she said.

A second son of the Ballusks’, Edward Jr. of Arkansas, is expected to arrive in Fullerton today, Berry said.

Berry said her family heard nothing Saturday morning before the banging on the door, and other neighbors who lived nearby also said they noticed very little.

Jerry Snell said his dog began barking loudly at about 4:30 in morning, waking his family.

“We just went back to sleep,” he said.

Many of those in the well-kept neighborhood have been living in there for more than 20 years. Lately, new families with younger children have moved in, neighbors said.

Not many seemed to know the Ballusks well. Several neighbors said the Ballusks kept to themselves. Randy Ballusk sometimes worked on cars in the family’s front yard and often was unemployed, according to neighbors. At times the son lived with his parents, at others in one of the several other properties neighbors said the Ballusks owned in Fullerton.

Berry said the son had been living with the parents “about three-fourths of the time in the last 6 months.”

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Paul Ballusk of Sunnymead, a brother of the dead man, was at the home Saturday as police scoured the area. When he was asked if Randy Ballusk had been living with his parents, he answered:

“They didn’t really want him here,” he said, refusing to elaborate.

Another neighbor, Hal Eiche, who has lived in the neighborhood 11 years, said Edward Ballusk recently suffered a stroke. The father occasionally talked of troubles with the son, Eiche said.

Eiche said the wife worked as a receptionist at a beauty college and that Edward Ballusk sold merchandise at local swap meets.

Several neighbors said Randy Ballusk asked for a lawyer when paramedics arrived.

Hernandez said Ballusk apparently wanted to be taken to a hospital in Brea, and not to UCI Medical Center in Orange, as paramedics planned.

Knew His Rights

“He said he had a friend who was a lawyer and that he knew his rights. He didn’t want to go to that hospital. . . . Maybe the other one was his regular hospital.”

Allison Baker, another neighbor, said she has known Randy Ballusk most of her life. She recalled that he was active in band and music as a student but that he became less social.

“He was pretty closed off from things,” she said. “There are some people who are outgoing and have interests, and others don’t.

“I just feel bad, because when you grow up with somebody . . . you just don’t think things like this will happen, especially in a quiet neighborhood,” Baker said.


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