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Gunman Kills One in Arizona

April 20, 2000

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) _ A man who feuded with a retirement community association barged into the group’s meeting armed with a rifle and handguns and opened fire Wednesday, police said. A woman was killed and four others injured.

Police arrested Richard Glassel, 61, a former resident at Ventana Lakes community in suburban Phoenix. Neighbors and witnesses said Glassel had past run-ins with the community association, which was meeting Wednesday afternoon at the community recreation center.

Glassel was tackled and subdued by people in the center when his gun jammed.

``He didn’t holler or anything, he just started firing,″ said Sheldon Stover, who helped restrain Glassel.

An attorney for the community association said Glassel had feuded with the group over the way groundskeepers took care of shrubs and other plants. He didn’t want the bushes around his house neatly manicured, said attorney Penny Koepke.

The association sued and obtained a restraining order in 1998 to keep Glassel from harassing or intimidating the groundskeepers after he allegedly shoved a property manager, Koepke said.

She said Glassel also picketed the builder’s sales office daily during part of 1998.

Another association attorney, Curtis Ekmark, said a bank had foreclosed on Glassel’s Ventana Lakes home last year and court records show the house was auctioned. He said Glassel had been quiet for two years.

``This was just a total shock,″ Ekmark said.

Other residents said Glassel vandalized his home after the foreclosure, though police would not confirm that.

Police Sgt. Russ Scarborough also said community residents reported they hadn’t seen Glassel’s wife, Susan, in about eight months.

Police said Glassel pulled up to the Ventana Lakes Yacht Club in a U-Haul truck, went into the community association meeting and began firing.

Fran Dorsch, a 67-year-old resident of Ventana Lakes, said she was at the pool behind the club with her grandchildren when people came out of the building screaming.

``I thought they were fighting with each other, but then they said a man had a gun,″ she said. ``I heard the shots, ‘Pop, pop, pop.’ ″

Nila Lynn, 69, who suffered a gunshot wound to the back, died at John C. Lincoln Hospital-North Mountain, said Scarborough.

Esther LaPlante, 75, was in extremely critical condition at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. Paul Ettinger, 69, was in serious condition at St. Joseph’s with a bullet wound to the chest.

Charles Yankowski, 69, was treated at Lincoln Hospital and released. Gilbert McCurdy, 63, had surgery on his foot and was listed in fair condition at Lincoln.

The community has about 1,400 homes amid man-made lakes, tennis courts and grassy common areas.

The shooting came a day after a man opened fire at a senior citizens apartment complex in Michigan, killing two women and critically wounding another. In that case, authorities said, the gunman opened fire during a meeting called because the man had been accused of using vulgar language.

Update hourly