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Man Leaves Suicide Message on Answering Machine, Kills Self

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Telephone callers to Richard Klee’s apartment Wednesday heard a chilling answering machine message in which he said in a slurred voice that he was in “pain and misery,” had taken drugs and planned to “use my .454 and end it all.”

Alerted to the message by Klee’s boss, four Los Angeles police officers entered Klee’s apartment in the 21800 block of Roscoe Boulevard in Canoga Park about 5 p.m. and were met by a gunshot. The blast forced them to dive out of the first-floor apartment through a window, Capt. Valentino Paniccia said.

About four hours later, a police SWAT team fired five canisters of tear gas into the apartment and entered, finding Klee dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Paniccia said.

Earlier, police fired their weapons an unknown number of times but it appears that none of their bullets struck Klee, officials said.

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As many as 300 people were evacuated from the 37-unit building, joining spectators on the street.

Before firing the gas, police tried several times to contact Klee by telephone, Paniccia said.

Klee’s boss told police that when the balding gun enthusiast arrived at his job Wednesday he told fellow employees that he was depressed and that he could not feel pain in part of his arm. To prove his point, Paniccia said, Klee burned his arm with a heating device, horrifying fellow workers.

Paniccia said Klee had worked at the electronics firm for five years and had never caused problems.

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Klee went home for lunch Wednesday but did not return. His supervisor called his apartment, heard the message, and called police.

The message said, in part, '. . . This is Richard Klee. Basically life sucks. I’m in pain and misery. I’ve taken 14 (inaudible) tablets in the last 40 minutes and later I intend to use my .454 and end it all. That’s about it.”

Felipe Polowood, 28, who lives in the apartment next door, said Klee worked with computers and would leave his apartment door open and sit working at his keyboard. Polowood, a computer programmer, said he tried to engage his neighbor in conversation but that Klee was unresponsive.


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