published Monday, July 14th, 2014

Dispatcher praised for getting California gunman to surrender

This Saturday, July 12, 2014, photo shows Pasadena Police officers blocking off a street corner following a shooting in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena, Calif.
This Saturday, July 12, 2014, photo shows Pasadena Police officers blocking off a street corner following a shooting in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena, Calif.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PASADENA, Calif. — Police on Sunday praised a dispatcher and crisis negotiator for persuading a gunman to surrender after he allegedly shot and killed three people in a Southern California neighborhood, wounded two others and fired on officers.

John Izeal Smith, 35, is suspected of killing a woman inside a Pasadena house, then killing two men outside and firing at officers before holing up back inside the house where the violence began.

Smith surrendered after a tense, 20-minute call to the dispatcher who was assisted by a crisis negotiator, Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said in a statement.

"The suspect willfully murdered and injured innocent people without warning as he fired more than 40 rounds from a semi-automatic rifle," Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said in a statement Sunday. "However, the courage of our dispatchers, police officers, firefighters and community members who valiantly tried to help the victims is impressive and speaks to the resolve of our community."

The statement said the dispatcher and crisis negotiator convinced the gunman to surrender in part through their calm demeanor. Officials planned to release a recording of the 911 call on Monday.

The woman killed in the house was identified as 59-year-old Maria Teresa Aguiar. The identities of the two men have not been released pending notification of family, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said.

Two others suffered minor to moderate injuries.

Police said the shooting may have something to do with landlord-tenant dispute, but Aguiar's brother told KCAL-TV the shooting was a case of domestic violence. Carlos Aguiar said Smith was his sister's live-in boyfriend.

Officers who responded to the scene came under heavy attack as they approached one of the victims outside, police said. They sought cover and their cars were struck with bullets. No officers were injured.

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