Investigators are still trying to determine what drove a Mission Viejo woman to brandish a gun at bystanders near the Montage Resort & Spa, leading to a police-involved shooting that killed her and her husband April 22.
Joni and Kevin Park, who were both in the real estate business, had rented a $2,200 per-night bungalow room at the Montage under a false name late the night before and paid in cash, police said.
Kevin Park used the name “Alan,” according to police logs from the incident.
‘Crazy’ gunwoman reported at hotel
At 7:40 a.m. the next morning, security personnel at the hotel called police for help after guests and visitors at the nearby Treasure Island Park began to report encounters with a “crazy” woman allegedly pointing a gun and threatening to shoot.
Other frantic 911 callers reported sightings or hearing about the woman at various locations, and police dispatchers hurriedly tried to pinpoint the location of the alleged gunwoman.
Laguna Beach police responded speedily and in force, with five officers and a ballistic shield to protect them from flying bullets, Sgt. Jason Kravetz said.
By the time officers arrived, the woman had retreated into her room.
Police, however, did not know whether the woman had burst into another person’s room, and the call was put out that a hostage situation was taking place or that an armed person was barricaded inside the room, Kravetz said.
The bungalow room fronts onto a public park that leads to the beach, which, on a beautiful Sunday morning, was filled with hotel guests and park-goers, Kravetz said.
“When police arrived, a lot of people were standing outside, pointing to the hotel room where they saw her go in,” Kravetz said.
Nine minutes after the first call to police, the couple was dead after two officers fired into the room.
Police at first believed the couple may have been committing “suicide by cop,” attracting the firing power of law enforcement, but new information has placed that theory in doubt.
Victim called 911 before shots
Police logs revealed — as first reported online by the Coastline Pilot — that Kevin Park dialed “911" three minutes before he died, apparently telling police that everything was OK.
“It’s my wife, and we’re not doing anything,” Park said to the 911 dispatcher in Laguna Beach who answered. Then the phone was disconnected, according to the log.
Kevin Park’s call was made at 7:49 a.m. Two police officers fired rounds into the room at 7:52 a.m., Kravetz said.
Officers had commanded the woman to come out of the room, but she did not, Kravetz said.
“Not only was she aiming at police, but there were a lot of people around,” Kravetz said.
Police felt ‘threatened’
Kravetz alleged at some point Kevin Park appeared to wrest the gun away from his wife then pointed it at the officers.
“Police saw [Joni Park] pointing a gun at them,” Kravetz said. “Then the man got the gun and both were threatening police. [Police] fired because a gun was being pointed at them, and there were a lot of citizens and [hotel] guests behind the officers.”
The gun was later determined to have been loaded, chambered and ready to fire, Kravetz said. A bag of ammunition was found in the room, he added.
The gun, a semi-automatic pistol, was not registered to either of the Parks, Kravetz said.
It is not clear whether the officers’ shots killed the couple, and Kravetz could not answer whether the Parks’ gun was fired. Those questions will be answered by investigators. Autopsies were conducted Monday on the couple to determine the cause of death.
Officers ‘acted appropriately’
The two officers who fired their guns — who were not identified — were placed on a three-day administrative leave and were expected to be back on the job Thursday.
Police logs from that day indicate that the officers on duty were not officers that have been implicated in another police-related death investigation, that of Matthew Dunlevy, who died in a city jail cell in January 2006.
Police were exonerated in the Dunlevy case.
The Park shooting is being investigated by the Orange County District Attorney’s office, which has a policy of not issuing statements about pending investigations, spokeswoman Farrah Emami said.
It could take months for investigators to release their findings, she added.
“We feel they acted appropriately,” Kravetz said of the officers. “We always try to de-escalate, and firearms are a last resort.”
There was no time to use other means to subdue the couple, such as Tasers or tear gas, Kravetz claimed.
The couple’s 17-year-old son was also at the location, but Kravetz said he was not in the room at the time of the shooting. The couple also had two other children.
In contrast to reports that Joni Park was naked as she ran around with a gun, she was found clothed in a flowered dress after the shooting, Kravetz said.
Documents may hold clues
Boxes of documents were found in the couple’s hotel room, Kravetz said. He could not comment on the nature of the documents, which investigators from the District Attorney’s office are inspecting. He described them as “voluminous.”
“We don’t know the motive [of the Parks’ actions] at this point, but it looks like they may have been hiding from someone,” Kravetz said on Sunday. “It’s strange.”
The police logs also indicate that a laptop computer was removed from the room for examination.
The couple had contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Friday with a concern, sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said.
“Our deputy met for an hour with both Joni and Kevin [Park]. There was no crime. It was just an information report,” Amormino said, adding that a police report was written as a result of the meeting. Mission Viejo is served by the sheriff’s agency, because the city does not have its own police department.
Kevin Park, 49, was a licensed real estate broker who operated his own company out of his Mission Viejo home. His wife, Joni, 48, is listed as a salesperson for the firm, Pacific Park Properties.
Kevin Park had a history of police involvement, according to court records.
In January 2004, he was arrested for assault and battery and trespassing, but the case was dismissed. In the same month, he was arrested on suspicion of DUI and reckless driving, and pleaded guilty to the reckless driving charge, court records show.
The hotel issued the following statement after the incident: “We extend our deepest sympathies to family members of the victims,” said James Bermingham, general manager of the Montage Resort & Spa.
“Our highest priority is the safety and comfort of our guests and staff especially during this difficult time. We want to assure the public and community that this was an isolated situation confined to two guests who knew each other.”