‘Oh, shoot, that’s a real gun’: Residents recount Pomona apartment complex shooting
Henry Washington was playing football outside his Pomona apartment complex when he heard two loud booms Wednesday evening.
The 15-year-old then saw kids bolting from a nearby apartment unit, followed by the property manager’s boyfriend, who was stumbling and bleeding from his back. A neighbor then stepped outside, a cigarette in one hand, a gun in the other.
“It was crazy,” Washington said. “First I see the gun, then he started to raise it and that’s when we ran.”
Just hours after Pomona police officers fatally shot a gunman in their apartment complex, residents said they were at a loss Thursday to explain the violence, and could only guess what had driven a quiet and withdrawn neighbor to fire on their property manager and her boyfriend.
“He just kept to himself, really quiet, wouldn’t say anything to anybody,” Claressa Dupree said of the shooter, who has not been publicly identified by police. “I couldn’t tell you how his voice really sounded.”
The incident, which is now under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, occurred about 7 p.m. in the 900 block of North San Antonio Avenue, when a gunman entered an apartment and shot a man in the chest, and the man’s girlfriend in the chest and stomach, according to authorities. The victims were both taken to a hospital and listed in fair condition Thursday. The gunman was shot and killed by Pomona police.
A group of children who were in the property manager’s apartment witnessed a harrowing scene there, a next-door neighbor said.
Claressa Dupree describes the shooting that occurred at a Pomona apartment complex.
The neighbor, Monica Diaz, said her 11-year-old son and her two grandchildren were sitting at a table eating when there was a knock at the door.
It was the gunman, who walked in and began arguing with the building manager’s boyfriend in a bedroom, Diaz said. The children, Diaz said, heard hollering coming from the room, then a gunshot.
The gunman then came into the kitchen and shot the property manager twice in the leg — near her ankle and near her knee — while she held her 3-year-old foster son, Diaz said.
Diaz’s 11-year-old son ran next door, screaming.
”Mommy, there’s a man in the house shooting at everyone!” Diaz, 45, recalled him saying.
Diaz and her boyfriend ran over and found the property manager on the floor, screaming and bleeding. Diaz found three of the woman’s five foster children hiding throughout the apartment.
As she ushered the children into her own home, she saw the gunman outside, firing rounds as he faced her. Two bullets struck a house across the street, she said.
Washington, who had been playing football outside, told a reporter from The Times that once he the man holding a gun, he ran to tell Dupree, his mother.
Dupree, 43, said she peeked through the blinds and saw the gunman come around the corner, raise his gun and fire two shots toward a second-floor unit, shattering a window.
“I just see him -- pow – I’m like, ‘Oh shoot, that’s a real gun,’” Dupree said.
The gunfire continued as Dupree dashed to her phone and dialed 911 before directing her own three kids and their friend to hide under or by the beds in their two bedrooms.
“I said, ‘If he makes it through the door, I don’t want him shooting fish in a barrel,’ so I split them up,” she said.
She was lying on the floor, on the phone with a dispatcher, when she heard sirens blaring.
“She said, ‘Just stay down just stay down,’” Dupree said
Another resident, Moises Santamaria, 41, said his 14-year-old son was walking to the laundry room when the teen encountered the gunman in a common area after he’d shot out the windows.
“Carry on,” the shooter said, with his gun by his side, according to Santamaria.
As the teen walked to the laundry room, Santamaria came outside, where he saw the shooter fire another round into the air. The man made eye contact with Santamaria before turning around and walking toward the alley.
“He looked kind of mad at the time, like something was bugging him,” Santamaria said.
Santamaria called out to his son, calmly asking him to come back inside.
“I kind of feel like he had a target, because I think anyone was up for grabs at that point and no one else got shot,” Santamaria said.
Once Pomona police arrived, officers spotted the gunman walking in the area of Columbia and San Antonio avenues, according to Sheriff’s Deputy Lisa Jansen.
Police fired at the man, and he ran into the alley at the rear of the apartment complex.
Meanwhile, the man who was shot in the torso pounded on doors, pleading for help, before collapsing on the grass, according to Diaz.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, the man engaged in a shootout with Pomona officers and was struck by gunfire. At least three officers fired their weapons. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said.
A handgun was recovered at the scene, authorities said.
Neighbors told KCAL-TV that it appeared the suspect, a resident of the apartment complex, opened fire while being evicted.
But other neighbors told The Times on Thursday morning that they believed the shooting stemmed from a family dispute, not an eviction.
Dupree said the shooter was a relative of the property manager who was already living in the complex when Dupree moved in three years ago.
Neighbors said he couldn’t stand loud noises, and complained when tenants played loud music. When there was construction going on at the complex for about a week last year, he stayed elsewhere.
In the two years Santamaria has lived in the complex, he said, he had only seen his neighbor, the shooter, only three times. In one of those encounters, the man was upset after a soccer ball struck his front door.
Diaz said that since the shooting, her young son has been repeatedly vomiting and has not been able to sleep.
He told her, “Every time I close my eyes, I see everything happening all over again,” she said.
“I want to move now,” Diaz said. “I don’t feel safe.”
Times staff writer Hailey Branson-Potts contributed to this report.
2:05 p.m.: This article was updated with an interview from Diaz.
This article was originally published at 1:25 p.m.
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