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Man Shot, Killed by Officers in Orange

Times Staff Writer

A 29-year-old man was shot and killed by police officers in Orange on Friday after he allegedly threatened two patrolmen with a butcher knife, authorities said.

The victim was identified as Frank Nalepa, an unemployed sheet-metal worker who would have celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday. Police said Nalepa was shot in his home in the 200 block of North Donneybrooke Street at 2:20 p.m.

The incident marked the fifth time this year that police in Orange County have shot and killed someone.

Neighbor Called Police

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According to Lt. Lou Walsh, an Orange Police Department spokesman, a neighbor called police to report a disturbance at the small, three-bedroom tract home just off the Orange Freeway and Chapman Avenue early Friday afternoon.

When two officers arrived at the house, Walsh said, they were confronted by Nalepa, who was “holding a large butcher knife.”

“He threatened the officers,” Walsh said. “I am assuming that to be true because we shot and killed the individual.”

Walsh declined to release the names of the officers involved in the incident, noting that the case was being investigated by the district attorney’s office in accordance with city policy for officer-involved shootings.

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The spokesman declined to say how many shots were fired or many times Nalepa was hit, but did confirm witness reports that the shooting took place inside Nalepa’s house. Police said Nalepa was alone in the house at the time he was shot.

Neighbor Recounts Action

David Aguirre, 22, who lives across the street from the victim and went to school with Nalepa’s younger sister, said he arrived home from work just minutes before the shooting.

“I saw Frank go into the house,” he said. “The cops were outside, but they were going in too, maybe a minute behind him. They didn’t have their guns drawn. That’s all I saw. They went inside and maybe about a minute later, all of a sudden you heard . . . BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! . . . about four or five shots.”

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Aguirre said Nalepa’s mother, Josephine Nalepa, 62, apparently was at work at the time of the shooting.

Neighbors said Nalepa had attended Orange High School, married and moved out of town. He returned about 1 1/2 years ago, after his marriage failed.

Orange police confirmed that officers had been to the Nalepa household numerous times over the past several months in response to disturbance calls involving Frank Nalepa. Aguirre described the victim as harmless, but prone to strange behavior and loud arguments with his mother.

On Wednesday, Aguirre said, he was at home when three policemen drove up to the house as Frank Nalepa sat in his driveway pounding raw meat with a brick.

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“One of the cops had his gun drawn,” Aguirre said. “I saw it. One of the cops said he was tired of coming over here. They talked to his mom for a while and then they left.”

Pounded Windshield

On another occasion, Aguirre said city police responded to a disturbance call to find Nalepa pounding out the windshield of his Datsun 280-Z with a baseball bat.

“He slept on his roof too,” Aguirre added. “You’d see him up there with his pillow. It sounds strange, but he was a really nice guy. He would stop you on the street and say ‘Hello.’ I don’t think he was dangerous.”

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Chris Bayati, another neighbor, said she was tending to her two young children when she heard the shots fired.

“I didn’t really know the boy. I think he had some problems,” she said. “Sometimes he would walk around the neighborhood talking to himself.”

Other neighbors said that in recent days, Nalepa had erected a shabby wood plank sign in front of the house, scrawled with the words, “No Trespassing.” They said he had spray-painted the same warning on a block wall in front of the house.


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