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Calif. Sheriff Deputy Shot to Death

August 31, 2001

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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) _ A gunman shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy Friday, then barricaded himself in a home that caught fire hours later, after officers lobbed tear gas inside.

Witnesses said the man fired hundreds of shots at the onset of the standoff.

Firefighters stood by as the fire fully engulfed the house in the upscale neighborhood after residents were evacuated. Firefighters were kept away because the heavily armed gunman was still inside.

Sheriff Lee Baca tearfully told reporters that Deputy Jake Kuredjian, 40, a 17-year veteran of the department, was shot to death at 9 a.m. while serving a warrant at the home of James Beck.

Beck allegedly had been posing as a deputy U.S. marshal and stockpiling weapons, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

``ATF agents were trying to serve a search warrant and it went bad,″ said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy David Cervantes.

There was an early report that a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent was wounded, but Cervantes said the agent was OK. Kuredjian was shot in the upper body and was taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead.

Officers had arrived around 8:30 a.m. to search Beck’s home when a gunman began firing randomly out of the house, Sgt. Ken Davidson said.

SWAT officers surrounded the home and lobbed tear gas inside. Gas clouds were billowing from second floor windows moments later.

The Stevenson Ranch neighborhood, an area of half-million dollar homes 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, was evacuated while deputies and agents were brought in by helicopter.

Update hourly