Police Say Gangs Are Using Homes of Elderly as Drug Houses
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Drug dealers are either coercing or paying off elderly people to use their homes as safe bases for narcotics sales, authorities say.
The statement follows the fatal shooting Wednesday night of 71-year-old L.C. Hadnott in South Central Los Angeles as police raided his house during a drug sweep. Police said Hadnott pointed a shotgun at officers, but his niece denied that.
″These rock cocaine dealers are using older people’s houses to alter the appearance of a rock house ... to give the appearance of an innocent place,″ said Lt. William Costleigh, who’s in charge of the Police Department’s central narcotics bureau. ″Rock″ is another term for the cocaine derivative also known as crack.
Costleigh said police have found an increasing number of elderly people either ″coerced or paid off″ by drug dealers for the use of their homes.
The Police Department said Thursday that Hadnott had refused several commands by officers to drop the shotgun he was carrying. He then turned and pointed it at Charles Wohlfeiler, 36, a 10-year veteran.
″He was in fear for his life and fired one round of a 12-gauge shotgun, wounding Hadnott in the left arm,″ the statement said.
Hadnott died hours later during emergency surgery at California Medical Center.
Friends and relatives said Thursday that Hadnott neither aimed a gun at police nor was involved in drug dealing.
″They had to have made a mistake,″ said close friend Jerry Gray, 41. ″He was an old man, just an old man.″
Hadnott’s niece, Joyce Dobbins, said officers wearing ski masks burst through windows and stormed the house she shared with her uncle.
″He did not have a gun in his hand,″ Ms. Dobbins said. ″He was trying to ask them what was wrong. They just shot him.″
″She’s lying,″ said Cmdr. William Booth, LAPD spokesman.
Booth said undercover officers purchased rock cocaine at the house just before a search warrant was sought, and again prior to the raid. The shotgun, drug paraphernalia and a small amount of cocaine were seized in the raid and Pamela Perkins, 26, was arrested for investigation of selling narcotics.
Costleigh said the officers were dressed in dark blue coveralls and were not wearing masks, but added they sometimes pull turtlenecks over their faces to make themselves less conspicuous.
The house was one of three raided by police Wednesday night in their continuing battle against street gangs and drug trafficking.