Two days after a retired police sergeant opened fire on armed intruders inside his home, a burglar alarm salesman Saturday was peddling his wares on North Hanover Street.
Probably nowhere else in Orange County could the salesman have found a more receptive group of potential buyers. There, on Thanksgiving night, their neighbor, Earl Swoap, used his 12-gauge shotgun to shoot down three of four intruders who allegedly had broken into his home. Nearby residents said Saturday they fear the quiet neighborhood might be the target of a violent retaliatory action in the future.
"The fear stays with you," said one neighborhood woman who declined to be identified. "I'm glad he (Swoap) did what he did. I think it's a smart idea to get a gun. I don't want to give my name because I'm afraid they'll come back."
No charges have been filed against Swoap, but Orange County Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi said Saturday that his office will review the incident to determine whether the 53-year-old man acted properly when he fired on the intruders, killing a 16-year-old boy and wounding two others.
The boy, who was not identified by authorities, was pronounced brain-dead Friday; he later was removed from life-support systems and died that night.
Capizzi said the case "would be treated like any other incident."
"It's routine when there has been a shooting for a review of the legal implications of the shooting," the district attorney said.
The wild events of Thursday night began when the Hughes Aircraft security guard, who retired from the Yakima, Wash., police force 13 years ago, was startled by a loud crash in his home. He told police that he grabbed his shotgun and found four intruders inside his home, three of them armed.
In a series of events still under investigation, police said Swoap blasted away at the intruders as they attempted to escape out the back door. Police said he chased the intruders outside and fired again as they attempted to escape in a car parked in the man's driveway. The shotgun blasts blew out the car's rear windows and two of its tires.
The two wounded suspects, a 17-year-old Garden Grove boy and 19-year-old Phouxay Vanhnarathof Costa Mesa, were in critical but stable condition at UCI Medical Center in Orange, police said. The two have been arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery.
A fourth suspect, Sayavong Nanthavongdouangsy, 18, of Anaheim, was not injured. The names of the juveniles were withheld because of their ages. Nanthavongdouangsy, also arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, was being held at the Anaheim Temporary Detention Facility.
Anaheim police declined further comment on the case Saturday, saying only that it was still under investigation. Police are trying to determine whether the incident was one in a number of so-called home invasions in Orange County involving teen-agers recruited by Asian gangs.
At Swoap's home Saturday, a relative who would not identify herself said neighbors have been offering support for the man's action. The woman said Swoap had not been at home for some time but was staying at an undisclosed location.
"What makes me feel bad is that others seem to feel sorry for the ones who held them up," the woman neighbor said. "It's a shame for their parents, but we all wonder why they picked his house. I'm afraid they might come back by and shoot at the house like they do in L.A."
Down the street, Adela Castenada said she had been afraid to return to her home shortly after the incident and now will lock the iron gate that shields her front door.
"We just moved here one year ago," Castenada said. Her family was returning home and had just turned the corner to North Hanover Street after celebrating Thanksgiving out when they saw the police lights and the wounded suspects lying on the ground, covered with blood, she said.
"It was terrible," she said. "I hope it never happens again."
Meanwhile, in an interview Friday, Nanthavongdouangsy's father, Donechanh Nanthavongdouangsy, claimed that his son was not involved with the break-in and was falsely arrested.
Through an interpreter, the Laotian immigrant said his son was at home about 10 p.m. when he got a phone call from Vanhnarath, who reportedly told young Nanthavongdouangsy that he was wounded and needed a ride to the hospital. The shooting took place about 9:35 p.m.
Police have declined to comment on the father's claim.