Man Searching for Sergeant in Rodney King Case Kills Man
RUBIDOUX, Calif. (AP) _ A gunman said to be looking for a former police sergeant convicted in the Rodney King beating stormed a halfway house and killed a man before being shot to death by a SWAT team.
The gunman, Randall Craig Tolbert, 34, also shot and wounded a man and pistol-whipped a woman in the house Thursday, authorities said. The bullet grazed the man’s head. The woman’s condition wasn’t immediately available.
Tolbert killed Karl Milan, 67, of Phoenix, who was at the house about 60 miles east of Los Angeles to help a friend service vending machines, authorities said.
Tolbert apparently was looking to kill former Sgt. Stacey Koon, who is finishing a federal sentence for violating King’s civil rights in 1991. Koon and three other white officers were videotaped beating King, who is black, after a traffic stop.
Koon spent Thanksgiving with his family and was not at the Re-Entry Community Corrections Center when the gunman burst into the house in the afternoon, Koon’s lawyer, Ira Salzman said.
Tolbert, who was black, said over drinks Wednesday night that he wanted to kill Koon, said Phil Chavez, a friend of the gunman.
``He was drinking ... and he wanted to do it last night,″ Chavez said. ``He just wanted to kill that guy.″
Tolbert’s relatives talked him out of taking his gun to the house Wednesday night, Chavez said.
Resident Clinton Cooper was watching from the back of a room when the gunman entered the home.
``He had one of the staff members around the throat and a gun at his waist,″ Cooper said. ``The staff member started talking to him, and he got him out of the room long enough for me to get out of the window and go call 911.″
A SWAT team stormed in seconds after hearing gunfire and Tolbert screaming that he was going to shoot someone else, Riverside County Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Lohman said.
Tolbert ``fired a couple of rounds at them, and then they returned fire,″ he said.
Koon and three other police officers were acquitted in state court for the March 3, 1991, beating of King. The verdicts touched off three days of deadly rioting in the city.
The four officers were later indicted on federal charges. Koon and Officer Laurence Powell were convicted in 1993 of violating King’s civil rights.
Koon, who was fired from the force, is to leave the halfway house Dec. 14.
Salzman said it was unlikely that Koon would return to the facility after Thursday’s shootings. He didn’t elaborate on the alternatives.
Neighbors said Koon shouldn’t have been moved to this black and Hispanic neighborhood in an unincorporated area of the county.
``I don’t know why they brought Koon here,″ Sabrina Harris said.