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Newport Beach Businessman Survives Attack

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A successful Newport Beach businessman survived a gunshot wound to the face Monday morning after he was ambushed outside his Irvine Spectrum office building.

James Patrick Riley, 58, chief executive officer of the pharmaceutical company Biofem Inc., was listed in stable condition Monday afternoon.

Riley was emerging from his blue Audi in front of the Spectrum Bank building on Alton Parkway when he was approached by a gunman. According to Irvine Police Lt. Sam Allevato, the suspect, described as 6 feet tall, dressed in black clothing, gloves and a ski mask, shot Riley in the face shortly before 10 a.m. and then ran through a courtyard to the rear of the building, where he fled in a van. None of Riley’s belongings was taken, and police said they were still looking for a motive in the attack.

The bullet, fired from a small-caliber semiautomatic weapon, tore through Riley’s cheeks, entering one side and coming out the other before lodging in a wall, police said.

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Leaving a trail of blood and his belongings scattered in the parking lot, Riley made his way to the Palm Court Cafe and asked waitress Martina Schultes for help.

“He said he got shot and that he didn’t know the shooter,” Schultes said. “I didn’t even register that he was shot. It’s just not something you would expect. He was standing up straight, he wasn’t stumbling. I called 911 and then he sat down.”

According to a witness who arrived shortly after the shooting, Riley remained seated, coherent and conscious while awaiting an ambulance. He was taken to a local hospital, Allevato said.

The gunman was last seen driving from the scene in a silver Chevy Astro Van, headed north on Pacifica toward the San Diego Freeway. Police said witnesses were able to report a portion of the the vehicle’s license plate number: 2WR--552 or 2WR--522.

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Riley’s employees maintained a guarded silence about the incident Monday. Dr. Larry Ford, Biofem’s director of science, declined to comment.

Biofem is in the process of developing a chemical suppository for women that is intended to help them protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, according to Carol Buck, a New Jersey pharmaceutical consultant who has worked with the company in the past. The company is also working on a product to increase patients’ tolerance for antibiotics without stomach upset, and had recently received private venture capital funding, Buck said.

“Their science was excellent. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sabotage that,” Buck said after learning of the shooting.

Biofem does not have any products that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to Biomedical Market Newsletter publisher David Anast.

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Times Staff Writer Marc Ballon and Times Community News Correspondent Kristi Ridgway contributed to this report.


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