Jobless man's gun spree leaves 5 dead in Calif.

December 03, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

OXNARD, Calif. -- An out-of-work computer engineer with a history of grudges against government opened fire without warning in an unemployment office yesterday, killing three people and later fatally shooting a police officer before he was gunned down at another unemployment office in the neighboring city of Ventura, authorities said.

The gunman, who also wounded three people, was identified by the Ventura County coroner's office as Alan Winterbourne, 33, of Ventura.

In recent years Mr. Winterbourne had run for Congress, saying he was attracted by the high pay, and had campaigned furiously against the installation of stop signs that he said interfered with his bicycle riding.

Ventura's city transportation engineer said yesterday that he had regarded Mr. Winterbourne as irrational and had told his boss he was afraid that "Mr. Winterbourne might come in and shoot me."

The slain officer was James E. O'Brien, 35, an eight-year veteran of the Oxnard police force. The other dead were identified as Anne Velasco, 42, of Fillmore, and Richard Villegas, 43, of Oxnard, both employees at the unemployment office, and Richard Bateman, 65, of Camarillo, who works for the Association for Retarded Citizens of Ventura County.

The wounded were identified as Bonnie Smith, Darlene Provencio and Irma Lopez, wife of Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez. All were listed in stable condition.

Witnesses said the shaggy-bearded Mr. Winterbourne, wearing a sport coat, shirt and slacks, entered the state Employment Development Department office in Oxnard shortly before noon, walked into an employee area and began firing.

"He did not scream anything to the people, he just kept shooting," said Deborah Dean, who was waiting at the office.

He then left the office and encountered Oxnard officers arriving in response to a 911 call. As the officers fired at him, Mr. Winterbourne ran to a nearby residential street, jumped into a parked car and led officers on a chase.

Near an area of lemon groves and farm fields, the gunman got out of his car and fired a rifle at officers behind him. Officer O'Brien was struck and killed. Mr. Winterbourne got into the car and fled toward Ventura.

With a half-dozen police cars still in pursuit, he pulled into the Ventura EDD office. As dozens of employees from nearby offices watched, he got out of his car carrying a rifle and was shot by a half-dozen officers.

District Attorney Michael Bradbury's investigators issued a preliminary finding that the officers were justified in shooting Mr. Winterbourne, according to Oxnard Police Cmdr. Tom Cady.

Witnesses to the Oxnard EDD shooting said Mr. Winterbourne appeared to be aiming only for employees, 35 to 40 of whom were in the building during the attack.

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