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4 Escape Death in Gas-Filled Home : Siege: Anaheim resident apparently tries to kill his family, then fatally wounds himself despite a six-hour effort to talk him out of it.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Anaheim man filled his home with natural gas Saturday in an apparent attempt to kill his family, then committed suicide with a pistol after authorities evacuated his relatives and negotiated with him in vain for at least six hours.

Police said William Joseph Galvin, 28, shot himself once in the head about 11 a.m., ending a standoff that began before dawn inside his home in the 500 block of South Grove Avenue--a quiet, tree-lined street of stucco and frame houses.

“This certainly wasn’t nice, but it sure could have been a whole lot worse,” said Lt. Del Wade, referring to the dangerous gas that could have exploded or overcome four of Galvin’s relatives as they slept.

Authorities were summoned to the home about 4:20 a.m. when Galvin’s grandmother, IgnaciaCallos, who is in her mid-80s, awoke and smelled a strong odor of gas, apparently coming from the kitchen stove.

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Police and firefighters blew away the gas with fans and evacuated Callos, along with Callos’ daughter, Maria Rodriguez, 51; Rodriguez’s daughter, Ruth Rodriguez, 29; and Galvin’s 3-year-old niece, Lizette Adriedne. Police were unsure of exactly how Galvin was related to the Rodriguez women.

Galvin refused to leave the home’s master bedroom, where he held a gun to his head and threatened to commit suicide every time police opened the door, Wade said.

In the ensuing standoff, more than 15 police and fire vehicles filled Grove Avenue and negotiators--accompanied by officers in charcoal-colored fatigues, some of them wearing gas masks and bulletproof vests--took turns entering the house. Curious neighbors watched from behind yellow strips of police tape.

“I could hear some of the negotiations,” said Ed Patrick, who lives near Galvin. “Boy, the officers were really trying to get him to come out, saying, ‘You haven’t done anything. Come on, let’s get everything squared away.’ They were very kind in attempting to get a bond going with him.”

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Wade said trained counselors began talking to Galvin about 4:30 a.m. and kept in contact with him for almost six hours. But when discussions failed to coax him out, tear gas was brought in.

During a check of the bedroom shortly thereafter, Galvin was found dead with a gunshot wound in the head, according to police.

“Boy, oh, boy,” Patrick said. “He was always clean-cut and neatly dressed, a congenial kind of guy. He used to ride his motorcycle home from work and occasionally wave. Who knows what went wrong? And no tellin’ what would have happened if the gas would have gone off.”

Members of Galvin’s family could not be reached for comment Saturday.

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Wade said investigators do not know why Galvin, an insurance salesman, took his own life nor have they established a motive for the apparent attempt to kill his family. A subsequent search of the master bedroom, he said, turned up four other handguns.


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