After Jacqueline Avant was killed, this teen found the suspected gunman in her backyard
The gunshot was right outside her bedroom door.
Grace Campbell-McGuire was in bed about 3 a.m. Wednesday, awakened by what she thought was her father rummaging through a drawer outside her room. The 17-year-old was annoyed because she had to get up in a few hours for school.
Then came a loud bang, followed by the voice of a man she didn’t know crying out in pain. Grace braced herself against her door and called 911 to report the intruder.
A few minutes later, she heard the man’s voice calling 911 himself.
“He was yelling outside my bedroom door, and he called 911 to say he was shot by a man in a ski mask and a jacket,” Grace said. “Then he gave our whole address to the 911 operator.”
When officers from the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the Hollywood Hills residence in the 6000 block of Graciosa Drive, they found the man — 29-year-old Aariel Maynor — in the backyard with a gunshot wound to his foot. An AR-15 rifle was found nearby.
Hours later, Maynor, who had recently been paroled from prison, would be linked to the fatal shooting of 81-year-old Jacqueline Avant. The prominent philanthropist and wife of music legend Clarence Avant was fatally shot in her Beverly Hills home about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Jacqueline Avant, philanthropist and friend to presidents and entertainment stars, was shot to death in her Beverly Hills home
Maynor could have made a clean getaway from the Campbell home if he hadn’t shot himself in the foot with his own gun, police said.
After calling 911 and limping out of the house, Maynor propped himself on their back deck, Grace said, crying out for help.
“He was saying all these things, like, ‘Help me. I’m bleeding out. I’m a Christian,’ ” the high school senior said. “He was begging.”
Grace’s own 911 call was disconnected, and she waited in her room for authorities to arrive. When they did, they ordered Grace to come out with her hands up. That was when she noticed a pool of blood near the stairway, not far from her bedroom.
Roused from a sound sleep by all the commotion, Robert Campbell, Grace’s father, made his way downstairs. Police trained their weapons on him.
“Oh, my God, what just happened?” an incredulous Campbell asked.
“They had their guns drawn, and behind them was a pool of blood,” he recalled Friday. “I didn’t know what happened to Grace. And police kept saying that she was with an officer, which didn’t assure me.”
His daughter was outside, chatting with police, who had taken Maynor into custody.
“Grace was just so calm under pressure, to keep her cool and call 911,” Campbell said. “She was outside talking with police like she had just bumped into them on the street.”
An hour earlier, police in Beverly Hills had received a call about a shooting on Maytor Place. When officers arrived, they found Jacqueline Avant with a gunshot wound. A source said she was conscious when paramedics arrived and transported her to the hospital, where she died from her injuries.
Multiple surveillance cameras showed a vehicle heading east out of Beverly Hills after Avant’s shooting, authorities said. The same car, described by Grace as a gold Lexus sedan, was found parked near the Campbell home — about seven miles away — that morning.
Police are still investigating the Hollywood Hills burglary, but Campbell and his daughter say their house, which is currently under renovation, is hardly the sort that would be targeted. The front yard is littered with building materials.
“It’s not the house that screams, ‘There’s valuable things in here,’ ” said Campbell, 52, who owns several restaurants.
“It’s super way into the hills,” Grace added.
The family says Maynor broke in through a window that does not sit flush with its frame. He grabbed a passport, a handful of gift cards and the keys to Campbell’s car while inside, they said.
When police found him, he had three bags filled with underwear, socks and charging cords for various electronic devices that authorities showed them, Grace said.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said Maynor has an extensive criminal record involving burglary and robbery, and according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, he has served multiple prison sentences over the last decade.
After LAPD officers took Maynor into custody, an “astute watch commander” in Hollywood connected the dots to the Avant case and alerted Beverly Hills, LAPD Deputy Chief Blake Chow said. Maynor has been in custody since, and Beverly Hills authorities announced his arrest Thursday.
After police left their hillside residence, Campbell and Grace got to work cleaning up. As her dad sprayed down the blood outside with a hose, Grace noticed something.
“I remember I saw something shiny. The water pushed it into a crack in the pavement,” she said. “I debated leaving it there, but then I thought, no, I should get it out. And sure enough, it was a bullet fragment that still had hair on it.”
Detectives picked up the evidence from the Campbell home Thursday, and less than an hour later, police announced that the man who had broken into their home was the prime suspect in the Avant homicide.
“It suddenly became very apparent just how much danger we had been in,” Campbell said.
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