Saturday, May 17, 2008


Emergency services respond to a shooting Saturday at St. John Baptist de la Salle Parish.

Gene Blevins / Associated Press
Los Angeles police officers examine the scene where a man shot three people at a church festival in the Granada Hills, May 17, 2008.

Rifleman opens fire before festival at Granada Hills church
By Andrew Blankstein and David Pierson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
7:51 PM PDT, May 17, 2008

A rifleman angered by a custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend opened fire at a parish school festival in Granada Hills this morning, wounding the woman and two other fairgoers before being tackled by bystanders and arrested by an off-duty police officer, authorities said.

Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic as the rifleman nonchalantly brandished a 0.22-caliber rifle made to look like an M-16 assault rifle and fired into booths at the fair.

The shooting took place shortly before the 11 a.m. start of the festival on a baseball field at St. John Baptist de la Salle Parish at Chatsworth Street and Hayvenhurst Avenue, authorities said.

Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Steven Ruiz said Fernando Diaz Jr., 33, arrived at the scene and sought out his 9-year-old son, who attends the school, and his estranged live-in girlfriend, who were both near a booth in center field.

Diaz "walks up carrying a tennis bag on his shoulder, puts it down, embraces his child, and then removes the rifle from the bag and aims it" at his ex-girlfriend, Ruiz said. "He fires multiple rounds, hitting her and two others. People were screaming, running and ducking for cover.

"He is being held on $1.5-million bail at the LAPD Van Nuys station on suspicion of three counts of attempted murder.

The ex-girlfriend, 29, was shot in the arm and listed in stable condition. A 45-year-old man who was shot in the leg and a 43-year-old man who was shot in the chest also were in stable condition. The victims were not identified, Ruiz said.

Diaz was subdued by half a dozen bystanders after he appeared to have difficulty firing his weapon, he said.


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