A 35-year-old woman was shot to death as she drove through a quiet residential neighborhood Thursday, and police arrested her estranged husband 12 hours later.
Denise Elaine Wallace was shot at 8:13 a.m. by a man in a small red car who authorities said had pulled alongside Wallace's Chevrolet Chevette as she drove in the 1800 block of South Jacalene Lane.
At the time of the shooting, Lt. John Cross said, the woman was about two blocks from her parents' home, where she had been living since leaving her husband and their Placentia home on Dec. 15.
The shooting comes just weeks after Wallace obtained a restraining order Dec. 20 against her husband, Allen E. Wallace, 52, who had allegedly fired shots at her parents' home and threatened her with a shotgun, according to court documents.
At 8 p.m. Thursday, police arrested Allen Wallace at a friend's apartment in Anaheim without incident. Police said they also recovered what they believe to be the murder weapon, and a small red car.
Wallace was being held at Anaheim city jail on suspicion of murder, with bail set at $250,000.
Cross said witnesses told police that as Denise Wallace drove north on Jacalene, the driver of the red car, facing south, stopped her. Sitting just inches from each other, Denise Wallace and the man either talked or argued for a few moments until the man pulled a handgun and began firing, Cross said. He then sped away.
Denise Wallace was taken to UCI Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
In a written statement requesting the restraining order, Denise Wallace said that on Dec. 18--three days after she left her husband--he appeared at her parents' house "after calling the previous days threatening to kill me."
"When I would not speak to him, he shot at the house," she stated in the request. "He also came to my therapist's office the same day and threatened me with a shotgun and a pocket knife."
The same day, Denise Wallace stated, "He called my work . . . and said he would pay me back for what I was doing."
The temporary order required Allan Wallace to stay 100 yards from his wife and her family.
A court hearing on a request for a permanent restraining order was scheduled for next Thursday.
The woman's parents could not be reached for comment.
Thursday's shooting comes about a month after a self-employed tile setter was found guilty of attempted murder in the October, 1990, shooting of his pregnant wife. At the time, Janet Totten had obtained a court order barring her husband, Anthony L. Totten, from seeing her and their two children. She was shot outside her Huntington Beach doctor's office.
Residents of the Jacalene neighborhood said much of Thursday morning had been quiet until they heard shouting from the street and moments later the shots.
"There was an argument going on and I heard what I thought was about a dozen firecrackers going off, because there was these big old bangs," said Michael Page, 19, who was sitting in his apartment about 50 yards from the shooting.
Times staff writer Mark I. Pinsky contributed to this story.