Feds seek evidence after fiery Calif. standoff

By Tracie Cone

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, April 14 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Bob Wilson, 85, a neighbor who lives two doors down from Engert, said there had been a procession of people around the locksmith's house since the shooting.

"I've seen a lot of cars coming and going and a lot of people going in and out of the house," said Wilson, who has lived in the area for more than 60 years. "He was a good guy."

Engert was hired by the landlord to help deputies gain entry to the apartment to serve the eviction notice, Adams said.

"He was there to open the lock," he said.

Law enforcement experts said it's not unusual to have a civilian, such as a locksmith, brought along during the service of an eviction notice. They said it's important for police to know who they are dealing with before knocking on a door.

"To be prudent, make sure the person inside is going along with the program before bringing someone like a locksmith," said Gregory Lee, a retired supervisory special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, who runs a consulting firm in Central California.

"The deputy is the messenger; he doesn't have a dog in the fight. Sometimes people attack the uniform, not the person," Lee said.

William Flynn, a retired lieutenant with the West Covina Police Department in Southern California, believes little could have been done if there was no indication the suspect in the Modesto eviction was violent.

"The only edge we have is to be on alert," he said. "If we lose that edge, that's when officers get hurt."

Officers are routinely provided training about executing search warrants. In most cases, agents learn about a suspect's background and their propensity for violence prior to serving the warrant.

In Modesto, Rihanna Brookshire, who lives next door to the shooting scene, said her children had just gone outside to play when the shooting began. Just as they came back into the house and shut the door, they heard a loud bang.

"I thought it was a backfire. We looked outside. My daughter saw a police officer dead on the ground. She said, 'Mommy, there's blood everywhere,'" said Brookshire, who was among the residents evacuated.

Associated Press writers Terry Collins and Garance Burke in San Francisco, and Greg Risling in Los Angeles, and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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