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Car Mishap Leads to Fatal Argument; Neighbor Arrested

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An argument over a car accident turned deadly Tuesday when a 32-year-old man was killed by a shotgun blast allegedly fired by his neighbor.

Jose Luis Galindo Retana was shot to death shortly after 4 p.m. His neighbor, Michael Bruce Brandt, 52, was arrested on suspicion of murder late Tuesday. Both men lived in a small apartment complex at 34032 Malaga Drive.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies said Retana was driving into the apartments’ driveway when he lost control of the car.

“It apparently narrowly missed the suspect” before crashing though a brick planter and into a wall, said Sheriff’s Department Lt. Richard Olson.

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Deputies said witnesses told them the men began to argue and then to shove each other. Each man then returned to his own apartment.

But a few minutes later, Retana “started kicking down the door of suspect’s apartment,” the Sheriff’s Department said. “At that point, the suspect shot (Retana) with one round from a shotgun, killing him.”

Police found Retana lying on a walkway outside Brandt’s upstairs apartment.

Friends and relatives of Retana, a maintenance worker at the Dana Point Resort hotel, waited tearfully outside a police barricade as deputies conducted their investigation.

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Retana’s wife of 15 years, Edelmira Zepeda, 28, said she was working as a housekeeper at the Dana Point Resort when police called and told her that her husband was dead. Supported between two relatives, Zepeda said her husband and Brandt had never fought before.

“I’m shocked by this,” she said through an interpreter. “We were friends,” with Brandt, she said. “There were never any problems before this.”

The couple moved to the United States from Guatemala about two years ago. Their five children, ages 4 through 14, live in Guatemala.

“I don’t know what to do now,” Zepeda said. “I want to take him back to Guatemala.”

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At 9:30 p.m., after several hours of questioning, Brandt was booked into the Orange County Jail. Bail was set at $250,000.

Lt. Randy Blair, a homicide investigator, said the incident was “basically something minor that turned something serious. It’s a real shame.”


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