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Arrest Stuns Family, Neighbors of Man Who Since Boyhood Wanted to Be a Cop

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As a child, Henry Hubbard Jr. loved to play cops and robbers. In 1986, he realized his boyhood dream by becoming the former. On Thursday, Hubbard was accused of also being the latter, as the San Diego patrolman was arrested and identified as the suspect in a series of sexual assaults and robberies.

Hubbard’s arrest, the latest in a succession of cop-gone-bad stories in San Diego in recent months, shocked the family and neighbors of the 29-year-old Mira Mesa man, who turned to law enforcement after a knee injury ended his plans for a professional baseball career.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Aug. 17, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday August 17, 1991 San Diego County Edition Metro Part B Page 2 Column 1 Metro Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong captions--In Friday’s paper, the captions on two photographs on Page B2 were transposed. Melvin Baker was pictured at left and Bill Maharrey was in the photo on the right.

“He’s one of the best neighbors I’ve ever had,” said Melvin Baker, who said that he has known Hubbard since both moved into the same apartment complex within days of each other four years ago. By all outward appearances, Baker added, Hubbard, his wife and their nearly 2-year-old daughter seemed to be “an all-American family--lovely kid, nice wife, nice husband.”

Another Mira Mesa neighbor, Bill Maharrey, was incredulous about the allegations lodged against Hubbard, saying that he hoped they stemmed from a case of mistaken identity.

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“It’s hard to believe,” said Maharrey, a 67-year-old retired Navy chief petty officer. “He’s a good, generous man.”

Hubbard’s mother, Annie M. Hubbard, said late Thursday from her home in Lancaster, S.C., a town of about 10,000 near the North Carolina state line, that she and her husband, Henry Sr., were “shocked” by the first news reports from San Diego.

“We’re just devastated to know anything like that,” she said. “Because we don’t see it. I don’t understand.”

Annie Hubbard recalled that her son “used to love playing cops and robbers and things like that” during his boyhood in Lancaster.

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“And he always wanted to fly,” she said, adding that he had acquired a pilot’s license.

Hubbard also was talented enough to pursue another dream in professional baseball. An outfielder, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1983, and played three seasons in the minor leagues in Spokane, Wash., and Reno, Nev.

After a knee injury sidelined Hubbard’s baseball career in 1985, his mother reminded him of his childhood dreams of becoming a police officer.

Pursuing that course, Hubbard was hired by the San Diego Police Department in December, 1986, and was thought by his superiors to have such a promising future that he was singled out to be featured in a five-part KFMB-TV (Channel 8) series in 1987 that chronicled his progress through the police academy.

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“As a little kid I used to run around the house talking about being a policeman,” Hubbard said in the KFMB report, which the station aired again Thursday. “It didn’t occur to me until after (my mother) had said that, you know, I really realized that that’s one thing I had considered all my life.”

Hubbard’s colleagues at the northern San Diego district police station where he worked declined to comment Thursday.

Hubbard’s mother said late Thursday that the family still had not talked to her son, who was being held under arrest at the UCSD Medical Center, where he was in fair condition after being treated for a gunshot wound to his hand. Police charged that the injury stemmed from Hubbard’s scuffle with two men whom he allegedly shot during an attempted sexual assault on their female companion at Torrey Pines State Beach.

“He’s always been a good boy,” Henry Hubbard Sr. told KFMB Thursday. “I don’t believe he could be in (this) type of trouble.”

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Similarly, Hubbard’s neighbors said that Thursday’s allegations and the picture they painted clashed dramatically with their image of the thin, small-framed man who often looked after other people’s cars and apartments while they were away on vacation.

Friendly and well-mannered, Hubbard seemed devoted to his wife, neighbors said, and was often seen in the neighborhood pushing their daughter in a stroller.

“He doesn’t look like he could hurt a fly,” Baker said.

Contributing to this story were Times staff writers Alan Abrahamson and Peggy Y. Lee.

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