In the second shooting by city police in three days, an officer on Sunday critically wounded a man who reportedly was attacking a woman in the bushes of a residential area, police said.
The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Leonardo Macias Castelan, address unknown, will be booked on suspicion of attempted rape, police said. Police would not say whether Castelan, who is apparently not from Orange County, was armed. He was in critical condition Sunday night at UCI Medical Center.
According to Anaheim police, a 34-year-old woman was walking home alone about 4 a.m. Sunday in the 2900 block of West Orange Avenue, near Beach Boulevard, when she was attacked by a stranger who began choking her and dragging her into bushes beside a house.
A passerby called police, Lt. Ray Welch said. Officers in three cars responded, discovering the rape suspect as he held the woman down on the ground, officers said. As the officers identified themselves, the suspect “jumped up, confronted the officers and was shot by one of the officers,” according to an account from Lt. Marc Hedgepeth.
“We heard three gunshots--boom, boom, boom, just as fast as you could shoot ‘em,” said Lee Miller, 60, who has lived for more than two decades on West Orange Avenue, two doors from the crime scene.
“No sooner did we hear the gunshots than the police were lined up for half a block,” Miller recounted. “No one would say anything--it was all very hush-hush, and I had to call the Police Department myself to try and find something out. But they just said: ‘Stay in the house.’ ”
Neighbor Charles Noland, 69, said he saw the victim standing beside a police car soon after the shooting, hysterical. He said an officer tried to calm her, saying he needed to ask her questions.
Police said the woman was then taken for treatment to a local hospital and released.
Like Lee Miller, most neighbors in the area surrounding the shooting reported hearing three shots. But the man staying at the house where the crime took place said he heard police say seven shots were fired in all.
But the man, who requested anonymity, said he himself heard nothing.
“We slept through the whole thing--didn’t even wake for the cops banging on the door,” his girlfriend said.
Alongside the house where they are staying, owned by the man’s parents, splotches of blood stained the pavement in a fenced-in patio area. Police also dislodged a bullet from the side of the house.
But the bullets weren’t confined to the immediate area. Verda Thomas, 60, who lives across an alley from the crime scene, reported that she heard a bullet hit her bedroom wall and found it on her back patio by a glass door Sunday morning.
“I know the difference between a (car) backfire and a bullet, and when I heard that, I just froze in bed. If that had gone through the wall, it would have been pretty scary,” she said.
“You know, this area used to be paradise; now it’s hell,” she said.
In fact, the frequency of burglaries, prostitution and violence along Beach Boulevard in Anaheim and the bordering residential neighborhoods has gotten so bad that local resident Bill McDonald, 36, said he just bought a .357-caliber handgun to protect himself.
“This neighborhood isn’t safe anymore,” he said.
Still, one resident who requested anonymity said, “The trigger-happy cops, I’m more afraid of them than the criminals.” Police shootings “just happen too much.”
In Orange County this year, there have been at least 23 police shootings, down from about 30 last year. The most recent came Thursday in Garden Grove when an Anaheim police officer shot and killed an unarmed man after the man rammed into a police barricade and tried to flee. The incident, like the one Sunday, is under investigation.