THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Take you now live to a news conference from Santa Clarita, California, the scene of that police standoff with an armed man, who allegedly shot the sheriff's deputy this morning, who's in serious condition.
Let's get the latest now from the sheriff, Lee Baca.
SHERIFF LEE BACA, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: ... apprehend this suspect, Deputy Kuredjian was shot with what we believe is one shot and therein fatally wounded.
I also would like to express my deep sorrow to his family, who are notified and on their way.
Unfortunately, the suspect is still barricaded in his home, and there's an ongoing operation at this time to apprehend him.
Is there any other questions or any questions that anyone may have, I'll try my best to answer them.
QUESTION: Can you spell his last name?
BACA: Yes. It's K-U-R-E-D-J-I-A-N
ALLEN: The sheriff's deputy just updating people there that this -- the sheriff saying that the sheriff's deputy was Jake Velagio (sic). He has now died, shot by a gunmen this morning. Again, that sheriff's deputy has died, and we'll listen in for more information.
BACA: ... is still the subject of an extraordinary amount tactical resources and our special weapons teams. I'm not able to comment accurately on exactly how a Deputy Kuredjian was shot.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about the suspect?
BACA: The suspect is a male who is 35 years of age. And his name is James Beck.
QUESTION: How old was the deputy?
BACA: The deputy is 40 years of age.
QUESTION: Sheriff, can you tell us is he married? Does he have children, a family in the area?
BACA: Deputy Kuredjian is not married. His girlfriend is here. She has been spoken to by myself and members of the Sheriff's Department's psychological services and chaplain services.
He has a brother who is here as well, who's name is Gato (ph). And his mother resides in Michigan, and we're making the arrangements for her to be transported here.
QUESTION: Sheriff, was the girlfriend flown in by helicopter?
BACA: I don't know how she arrived. It's quite likely that could have occurred.
QUESTION: Do you know if the agents and the deputy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) house by helicopter, during the course of the shootings by helicopter?
BACA: Currently, it's my understanding that the suspect is still barricaded in the home and he is shooting at the deputies who are on the scene. And I can't offer you any more than that at this time.
QUESTION: Impersonating a federal officer, meaning in order to get weapons or...
BACA: It's unclear to me at this time as to the details regarding his offense. But I'm sure in the next several hours, more will be known to the extent of this crime.
QUESTION: What was the exact reason for the search warrant?
BACA: Essentially to arrest him for impersonating a federal officer.
QUESTION: Sheriff, Deputy Kuredjian was one of how many sheriff's deputies that were there assisting, approximately?
BACA: I'm not sure as to the entire deployment of personnel.
Thank you again for coming here.
ALLEN: An emotional sheriff from Los Angeles County announcing the death of one of his deputies. That deputy was shot this morning in Santa Clarita, California, that's about 25 miles north of Los Angeles. And he along with other deputies and agents with the ATF went to serve a warrant at a home we've been telling you about.
These are live pictures from that home. It looks like more tear gas coming out of the windows there, which we also saw happen about an hour ago as well. The man, the gunman, who is still barracked in the home, who deputies say shot this deputy this morning, was just identified by the sheriff there in the news conference as James Beck, who is 35 years old. According to neighbors CNN has interviewed there at the scene this man apparently had many weapons and told neighbors that he was a federal marshal.
The reason that law officers were going to his home today was to issue a warrant and to interview him, and -- about whether he had been impersonating a federal officer, that's what the warrant was for.
We continue to watch the scene here with black smoke coming out of back windows, the side windows as well. Police have been trying to negotiate with him to get him out of his house. He has not given up, and, as you heard the sheriff say, has continued to fire at law officers outside, even firing at a fire department helicopter above this home in Santa Clarita, which is described as an upscale neighborhood north of Los Angeles.
Heavy black smoke coming out of this home now from different windows. And there wasn't any word on whether there was anyone else in this home. We hadn't heard that there was, just this one person, again, identified as James Beck, a 35-year-old.
And law officers, of course, have been surrounding this home since this shootings...
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: There you can see some flames too now, if I can jump in here with you, Natalie.
This is starting to be really engulfed here in Santa Clarita in this house. We saw earlier, light white smoke, and we were just speculating that was tear gas, but this house is definitely on fire now.
As you can see, obviously, as you watch the pictures with us, up there in the right-hand side in those windows they are in full flames and the smoke is pouring out of this house.
The sheriff, Lee Baca, just telling us, of course, that the deputy who came on the scene earlier shot to death, allegedly, by the man inside this house. And now as we continue to watch this -- of course we have no idea what's caused this fire, but it is starting to be fully engulfed her.
Earlier we had heard that this man -- officials had confirmed to us that this gunman inside this house had fired actually at a fire department helicopter that was over the house.
ALLEN: No sign of anyone fleeing this home at this time. We can tell you that these homes nearby have been evacuated and we assume that the fire officials are near this scene as well.
As we mentioned earlier, a fire department helicopter had been fired on. KELLEY: Don't see fire units there on the scene though, as we look around. We've seen, of course, as we mentioned before, that ATF agents -- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents were there, along with L.A. County sheriff's deputies. And we mentioned that fire department helicopter, but see any fire units on the scene at this point. And as we continue to watch with you, by the minute, this fire is certainly getting worse.
ALLEN: Let's find out if we have our correspondents available who's at the scene. OK, we don't. She's probably trying to get some more information on what's going on.
But the fire apparently starting here on this second floor of this home, and starting to spread, as you can see, rather quickly.
KELLEY: It looks like it's the upper floor at this point. But you can see the smoke billowing out of back and the right-hand side of those windows, and the flames, and then billowing out besides there as well.
And they had people talking on the phone with him, trying to come to a peaceful surrender on this after he had been firing. And the sheriff, who we just brought to the news conference on CNN, saying that the suspect was still barricaded in this house, and that he was still shooting at deputies on the scene there.
ALLEN: It was about an hour ago that we saw what appeared to be, we cannot confirm, but appeared to be tear gas with a little bit of smoke coming out of the window. It seemed that something broke the window about an hour ago, and then you saw just a little bit of gray smoke, but now this house engulfed in flames.
In case you are just joining us, we want to bring you up to speed on this whole story and how this all began. You are looking at an upscale neighborhood in Santa Clarita, California, that's about 25 miles north of Los Angeles. This is Los Angeles County. Federal officers, the sheriff's department and ATF agents, went to this home this morning to serve a warrant on the man who lives there, James Beck, who is 35 years old. A warrant for impersonating a federal officer.
A shooting occurred when they went to this man's home. A sheriff's department was shot, was taken to the hospital in serious condition, but the sheriff has just told us that that sheriff's deputy has died. So one law officer shot, allegedly by the gunman inside.
We hear from neighbors that this man has several gun, and according to neighbors had told folks who live around there that he was a federal agent. And as Donna says, law officers have been negotiating to get him out of this house, but now this house is burning and we're watching it closely to see if anyone emerges.
KELLEY: We haven't seen anybody as we've been watching here right now, as you mentioned. I was trying to see if the bottom looked like it was burning as well, but it looks like that's just shadows coming from the fire up top there, down below on your right-hand side as you look. But, it is fully enflamed.
Hena Cuevas, our correspondent, is joining us on the telephone right now, and she's there. Hena, what can you tell us?
HENA CUEVAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donna, we just heard from deputy sheriff Lee Baca that the deputy sheriff Jake Kuredjian, 40-years-old, died from the gunshot wounds that he received during that standoff between the ATF agents and the suspect.
Right now the house that the suspect is in, is on fire, and earlier today the sheriff and the agents had thrown in some tear gas to try and get him out. They say they are in contact over the phone with him, trying to negotiate some kind of a peaceful resolution to everything.
Basically it all happened about three hours ago, when the ATF agents came in to serve a search warrant. At this point, we don't know what the warrant was for. That's when he opened fire. The gentleman is heavily armed.
He has been described as a 35-year-old male, by the name of James Beck, and Sheriff Lee Baca just announced that he would be arrested for impersonating a federal officer, for posing as deputy U.S. Marshall.
We have been able to speak to a neighbor who says -- lives across the street from the suspect, and he did say that James Beck moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, and had claimed that he was a Marshall. He described him as a very nice neighbor, and he would participate in backyard barbecues, they would even watch "The Sopranos" on Sunday. So, the neighbors are, needless to say, very, very shocked.
Going back to the deputy sheriff, Jake Kuredjian, 40-years-old, the 17-year veteran of the force. We understand that he was not married. He does have a girlfriend and a brother who are currently being counseled regarding his death. Donna?
KELLEY: Hena, we are continuing to watch the house here, and it continues to burn and be in flames, particularly the back right-hand side. I don't know if you're able to see, or how close you are, so we're going to continue on, if you'll just hang on the phone line with us.
Natalie, go ahead.
ALLEN: And is anyone saying there what they think the status of the individual inside is?
CUEVAS: At this point there has been no additional information. The only thing we know is that they have been in contact with him over the phone to try and negotiate some kind of a peaceful resolution. They say they have been talking to him.
We know that he is alone in the home. There is nobody else. So they're just kind of waiting to see if with all of the additional weapons and addition troops that have been brought in, he will eventually surrender or come out.
The home surrounding the house has been...
ALLEN: Hena, I have to interrupt just a moment. I have with us on the line from the L.A. County Fire Department, Brian Jordan.
Brian, what can you tell us about this scene now?
BRIAN JORDAN, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Basically, we have four fire engines and two paramedic squads standing by. Currently, firefighters can not move in to fight the fire, due to the fact that this person may have dangerous weapons that can injure firefighters. So, until the sheriff deputies tell us we can move in, we're going to stay at a safe distance.
ALLEN: Is that normal operating procedure in a situation like this?
JORDAN: Yes, that's normal operating procedure. As a matter of fact, any violent type of call we ever respond to, we wait until we have fire -- law enforcement escort to assist us fighting this type of fire, or any type of medical emergency.
ALLEN: So, they believe if you got close enough to do any good here for this home, that your lives could be in danger from the gunman?
JORDAN: Well, it's risk versus gain. The law enforcement officers will keep us back to prevent us from getting injured.
ALLEN: Well, what happens if these flames jump to other homes nearby in the meantime?
JORDAN: We have other methods actually to prevent these other homes from catching fire. We have all sorts of equipment that we can use. Again, the plan has been set, and the incident commander on scene has several plan A, Bs and Cs, just in case this fire gets -- or tries to spread to other homes.
ALLEN: All right. Brian, is the sheriff's department saying what they think caused this fire to break out?
JORDAN: No, the cause of the fire, of course, will be under investigation. This incident is actually still very dynamic, so there's very limited information we will be able to give regarding law enforcement issues.
ALLEN: It must be a difficult task for these firefighters sitting so closely by, and they can't do anything about this.
JORDAN: Actually, again, risk versus gain. The firefighters want to fight the fire, on the same hand, the same token, they have to be safe. You can see a fire truck in the lower right corner of the screen, has the hoses laid out, ready to move in. Again, we can not move in until the sheriff's department tells us it is safe to move in.
ALLEN: And the sheriff's department is just standing by, hoping this man gives up and gets out of there?
JORDAN: Well, they have their plan set, and we do not know what that is. That's the way it's supposed to be. They are supposed to get in there and do their job, and when I say get in there, they're staged in the proper locations, and they know exactly what they're doing. And the deputies are not going to put themselves in danger either.
ALLEN: So everyone's just standing by, watching what is turning into a horrific scene here. We thank you, Brian Jordan with the L.A. County Fire Department.
As you just heard, even though this home is now -- as you can see, this fire is just growing, and the home is starting to be totally engulfed in flames. We can see flames coming through the roof, the vents, more than one window. The fire department is being told to stand down by the sheriff's department, because there is still a man inside this house holed up with several gun. A man who allegedly has shot and killed a sheriff's deputy during a standoff today, and has fired other weapons.
But how much longer he could sustain life inside this home at this point is anyone's guess, with the amount smoke throughout the house and the flames that you can certainly see there.
Again, the man inside this home is identified as James Beck, 35 years old, who was in the home this morning when law officer arrived and attempted to arrest him on charges of impersonating a federal officer. He was reportedly heavily armed, shot with an automatic weapon several time, and at a fire department helicopter overhead.
And this scene has progressed to this right now, the house going up in flames. Still, no sign of the man inside.
KELLEY: It was good to see that picture, the one that we had that was pulled out a little bit while you were talking to the man from the fire department in L.A. Because, then we could see the fire engine, and it looked like they were about between a half to a block away. And as you point out, they're standing by because of the scene is so dangerous, and being kept back.
And the sheriff who was in the news conference said that he was still barricaded in the home, and still shooting at the deputies who were there on the scene. So, they have to stay back, and as your person from the fire department pointed out, it's risk versus gain. So, they are waiting and watching. And I would have to wonder with you, as you wondered aloud, when this starts to get more engulfed like this, how a person can stay alive.
But we don't know what corners could be in the house there. But it's definitely spread, and I'm not sure exactly what the terminology would be to say fully engulfed, but it's just about as engulfed as you could get.
ALLEN: The fire department has said that they would attempt to save other homes, they had means to do that, which is what Brian Jordan with the L.A. County Fire Department told us. If this fire were to jump and touch any other homes -- we can tell you that there's no one in the homes surrounding this house that's in flames. This neighborhood has been evacuated, at least the immediate homes around this home where the shooting began this morning.
KELLEY: Let's go over to the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is having a news conference about this incident that's happened today. They were along with the L.A. County Sheriff's deputies, who were also on the scene, and so the ATF and it looks like the L.A. County Sheriff's department is having some more information. Let's listen in to that as well.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: If they live in this area, in Stevenson Ranch, your children will be kept at school, so you can pick them up at the school. So anyone in the William S. Hart school district, both junior and senior high.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: As soon as we get more information to release, we'll give it to you.
QUESTION: ... students are at what school, again? Valencia?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: The children that attend school here in Stevenson Ranch are at Valencia Meadows School. You need the address again?
QUESTION: We have right now live images that are showing a huge fire going on at a residence. Can you confirm whether this would be the house of the suspect? We're seeing live images of a house that's on fire?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: OK, I can't confirm that, because I'm not physically there, and I haven't received any official word of that. But if you're getting it from -- see what you're getting broadcast, sir.
QUESTION: Gary, can you walk me through what we know so far today and the timeline (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Sure. Well, we can go back to what happened this morning. At 8:45 this morning, federal agents were serving a search warrant in Stevenson Ranch on Brooke Circle. During the serving of the search warrant, there was an exchange of gunfire. The suspect started firing on agents. Deputies from Santa Clarita station responded to assist the ATF, and one of our deputies was hit. And the suspect has barricaded himself in the house and refused to come out.
QUESTION: In cases like this, what would be the next step in the long-term scheme?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Well, if an armed suspect is refusing to come out of a location, our special weapons team would be deployed to make sure the suspect doesn't start firing on innocent people or come out of the house with a gun. We have hostage negotiators that have responded and are attempting to make contact with the suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: I can't confirm it. I mean, if that's what's happening, we don't know if it was set by the suspect or any other source. Don't know.
QUESTION: Tear gas oftentimes ignites these fires. Is that a possibility?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: It can. It can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Again, as I stated with ATF, there's no injuries from the gunshot wounds that took place earlier today, so...
QUESTION: From what I understand...
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Yes.
QUESTION: From what I understand, investigators have been in communication with the suspect. And you say it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: When the sheriff's department arrived, we had heard that information, but at this time, our hostage negotiation team is attempting to make contact with him.
QUESTION: So there's one suspect?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: The investigation is ongoing at this point, and obviously it's a very tense situation, so that information, when we have it, we'll release it to you.
QUESTION: How long will the standoff last and who will go in? SWAT or ATF agents or who?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Every situation is different, so we can't say what's going to...
QUESTION: ... an indication of how he knew (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are ready for you? (OFF-MIKE)
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: I don't know that right now.
QUESTION: How many people are working on this altogether?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: I don't have a count. Every station in the sheriff's department jurisdiction has a percentage of their field force that can respond to emergencies. And there's -- other stations have responded as well as agents from the U.S. Marshals.
QUESTION: Agent Baker, can you clarify? As I came over here on the radio, they were reporting one of your agents was killed in this, and they named him. Do you know where that came from and what that...
LATESE BAKER, DEPARTMENT OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS: No, I don't. And again, we have confirmed our personnel, and there's no injury to our personnel from the gunshots. However, what we plan to do is give you updates as soon as we get the information, and that information that is available to you, we would like to share that with you. And...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) fire out in the house?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: If there's a fire, they'll do what they can. We'll have an update in a few minutes. The undersheriff is here and I'll try to get him over to make a comment.
QUESTION: Your name again?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ALLEN: That sheriff said that he's not sure -- knew that this house had started blazing. As you can see, the fire department is now attempting to put this fire out from a distance, and hosing down the home nearby to make sure it doesn't spread. We can confirm that earlier that S.W.A.T. teams surrounded the home and lobbed teargas canisters into it. That's what we thought we were seeing, so we can confirm that. And as the sheriff's deputy said, tear gas can sometimes ignite a fire, but we do not know what caused this fire at this gunman's home today.
The fire department now getting some water on it, trying to knock it down. Flames still...
KELLEY: They're headed in from both sides, there. It looks like they're trying to protect both sides of both of the houses that are sitting as closely to that house that's on fire. Certainly, the fire has been knocked down. One thing that would we probably watch for now here, even with the flames, the smoke inhalation would have been something that could have even taken down the suspect here in this house.
If you are just joining us, we probably should update folks. We're just a little bit after the top of the hour, we should update you and tell you we'll continue to watch this story, and then after we get through this, we'll probably be joining TALKBACK LIVE. But we're going to stick with this story for the time being.
This morning, early on, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, at about 8:45 local time in California -- we're in Santa Clarita, California, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles -- ATF agents, along with the L.A. County sheriff's deputies were trying to arrest a man. They were going to give him a search warrant and they were going to arrest him on charges of impersonating a federal officer. When they went, allegedly, this man started firing back, and he did hit apparently, allegedly, a sheriff's deputy, who has now died. And as we were telling you earlier, the suspect was still barricaded in the home, still shooting at the deputies on the scene. The fire department had a truck off about, oh, I don't know, maybe about a block away from what we could see in the pictures we were looking at. And since it was such a dangerous situation with the suspect still in the house firing, they were told to stand back.
In the meantime, they got into position around the backside of this home, and were able to, from two positions, as you can see, try and get some water on the house that was burning, in addition to trying to protect the two homes that were there next to it.
ALLEN: Belinda Smith is on the line with us. Belinda, are you there?
BELINDA SMITH, STEVENSON RANCH RESIDENT: Yes, I am.
ALLEN: You're a neighbor -- you live in this neighborhood, correct?
SMITH: Yes, I do.
ALLEN: Where are you now?
SMITH: I'm in Stevenson Ranch, right around the corner. I can see the smoke coming up.
ALLEN: So the sheriff deputies did not ask you to evacuate?
SMITH: No, they didn't ask us to evacuate, but we tried to go get our mail and they told us to get back in the house. They said that there was a sniper out, so we couldn't leave our house.
ALLEN: Were you there this morning when all of this began?
SMITH: Yes. About -- just a little after a 8:30, we hear this huge collection of fire trucks and policemen going by, and we thought it might be a fire on the hill. But they're just continuous, continuous, continuous. We didn't know where they could get so many policemen, just so many were going by.
ALLEN: You didn't hear then, what happened before, which was, apparently, gunshots breaking out from this house, a gun battle between police and the man inside.
SMITH: Both Andrea and I here, we were thinking that we had heard firecrackers, and we didn't know if that could have been the gunfire or if it was something else.
ALLEN: Probably not used to hearing something like that in this neighborhood. The man inside, ever hear of the man inside? Described as a 35-year-old James Beck?
SMITH: Not that I know of. I have not heard of him before.
ALLEN: Usually a quiet neighborhood you live in?
SMITH: Oh, very quiet.
ALLEN: Do you know most of your neighbors? SMITH: Yes. And most of these homes, you know, they're very expensive homes, supposedly the third or fourth safest city in the nation of populations over 100,000, so it doesn't usually happen.
ALLEN: All right. Well, we're glad you are safe and sound in your home there. As you said, you're close enough to see this. And bringing folks up to speed here again, the fire department continues to pour water on these homes which are next door to this home, which is still burning -- flames shooting through the roof now. And no word from the sheriff's department on the whereabouts of the gunman who was holed up inside -- Donna.
KELLEY: We may get a little more information. Let's go to hear more from the ATF and the L.A. County sheriff's department right now.
UNDERSHERIFF WILLIAM T. STONICH, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: And I'll defer questions specific to their investigation to ATF.
How much do you think (OFF-MIKE) how many rounds, and what is happening (OFF-MIKE)?
As I indicated, what has been reported to me is that James Beck, the suspect in this homicide, has fired rounds at our personnel, who have contained the structure that he is in. There have been no other injuries that have been reported, and as I indicated, the dynamics of the situation are ongoing.
QUESTION: Does he have a prior criminal record?
STONICH: Say again, sir.
QUESTION: When was the last time that you fired (OFF-MIKE)?
STONICH: I would suggest that that's been within the last 30 minutes.
QUESTION: Do you know what (OFF-MIKE)?
STONICH: I don't have his criminal record. Once again, I'm going to defer to representatives from ATF.
QUESTION: Now, your deputies told us earlier that they have been in communication with the suspect. When was the last time they've been in communication with him?
STONICH: I know exactly what you've indicated, that our crisis negotiation team has in fact been in communication with Mr. Beck. I don't know what the latest update is on that as far as communicating between Mr. Beck and CNT.
QUESTION: Now, since the flames developed in his home has there been any communication?
STONICH: I have -- it's not been reported to me as of yet. I'm sure that we will have an update for you as that comes in. QUESTION: What about the homes surrounding them? That fire is pretty big.
STONICH: Yes. And evacuation is taking place from those homes. A number of them have been evacuated prior to the structure being engulfed in flames.
QUESTION: How much longer will you allow the standoff to continue before making some other decisions, maybe about getting him to surrender, or going in and perhaps getting him?
STONICH: Our efforts are solely to end this particular situation with no injuries to anyone else, including the suspect in this.
Mr. Beck at this time is contained in that structure. He is at least, as far as it's been reported to me, continuing to communicate with us through our crisis negotiation team. And we can wait for a long, long period of time before we have to go through any other steps.
QUESTION: I know you can't tell us exactly what's been said during this communication between your deputies and the suspect, but can you give us a sense of how it's going? Are the negotiations positive? Where are we at?
STONICH: The only thing that I can indicate to you is that it is always positive when communication is taking place, and that was what was last reported to me, is that James Beck was in fact communicating with our crisis negotiation team.
QUESTION: Sheriff, we had some indication from some witnesses that there were other individuals inside the house. Do you have any information about that?
STONICH: No, sir. No, sir, I do not.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE). Can you update our viewers as far as the -- they say he's got -- could you tell us some more about him please?
STONICH: Yes. Deputy Kuredjian was a member of the sheriff's department for 17 years. He was assigned to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. He was assigned to the motor unit. He entered the sheriff's department in 1984. He served at Malibu / Lost Hills as well as Custody Division prior to his assignment to Santa Clarita Valley Station.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE). Are you having communication still with the suspect, or (OFF-MIKE), or is that cut off?
STONICH: That -- the last I was -- was reported to me that we were in communications with him. I haven't heard update in the last few minutes. QUESTION: So there's only one suspect that we know of for sure?
STONICH: I couldn't say for sure, but as far as we know there's only one suspect in that structure.
QUESTION: Do you what kind of weapons he has?
QUESTION: Sheriff, we heard about automatic weapons fire. When you say automatic, full automatic or semiautomatic?
STONICH: That's still to be determined. It could be either a semiautomatic or full automatic, and that we won't learn until the instigation is taken further.
QUESTION: Sir, you said the last time that your deputies have been fired upon is about 30 minutes ago. Have they been returning fire?
STONICH: There's been no report to me that our deputies had necessitated returning fire at this point.
QUESTION: Has tear gas been fired into the structure?
STONICH: That I can't say at this point. I don't know that that has taken place or not. They certainly have the ability to be able to do that, and that is an alternative that is available to them. It has not been reported to me, though.
QUESTION: How much longer will you let the fire go before you say, OK (OFF-MIKE)?
STONICH: I haven't -- it hasn't been reported to me as to how serious the fire is, and I think I'm going to now excuse myself and get an update. If there is anything else that I can report back to you I will come back with that update.
STONICH: Say again, sir.
QUESTION: What are the safety concerns that if you were to go in to fight the fire? We know there's the ambulance and there's firetrucks. If the suspect is still in there, how do you deal with a situation like that?
STONICH: I would hope that Mr. Beck would be at least smart enough to come out.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
KELLEY: Where there we have a spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, who along with ATF, went to served a search warrant -- if you're just joining us -- went to serve a search warrant on a suspect, 35-years-old James Beck, he's identified as, and this Sheriff's Department spokesman saying, as far as they know, he was alone in home. And he said the dynamics of the situation, as he put it, are ongoing.
Didn't have his criminal record available, but he said that the crisis negotiation team they had was still talking, continuing to talk with the suspect. And he said they could wait for a long period of time before going through other steps.
However, as you've been watching these live pictures with us, this house has been for -- I -- let's see, probably about 16 minutes or so at least, at least since the top of the hour, burst into flames, and it started out on the right-hand side. If you are watching these pictures with us of your screen, and we're panning over to the left here I see. And now it spread over to the left-hand side of the house, and the fire department has been spraying water on it for some minutes now trying to get it under control and to protect the two homes that are on either side of the house as it burns.
So, according to sheriff's spokesman, they were still in contact with him, but as you've been able to see, if you are watching these pictures with us, the flames were even bigger than this as we first started, when it first started up, and the smoke just billowing out of this house.
And so we'll continue to watch and get updates for you as best we can, but according to him, the crisis negotiation team was still talking to the suspect, 35-year-old James Beck. And the fire department, there as you can see, continuing to spray water trying to protect the two homes on either side as this house continues to burn.
And the fire has moved now from where it started, upstairs on right-hand side, where you can see where it's more burned out, and now it's still fully in flames on left-hand side of the house and up on the roof.
ALLEN: Hard to believe, Donna, that anyone could sustain life inside this home with the amount of smoke that has been barrelling out of these windows, but as you can see, the sheriff's deputies' cars, police cars still surround this home. They're not approaching, the fire department is not approaching.
And we're going to show you in a moment the tear gas that was fired into this home earlier to try to force the gunman out. You'll see some pops -- there you go -- on the back roof of the porch of this house. And then another appears to land in the yard. You'll see that -- there it is, or it might be the same one coming off, though. But we also saw the back glass shatter of that window, where it seems the fire broke out. Still no conclusions that this was started by tear gas canisters, but tear gas was fired into this home earlier.
We have there nearby CNN correspondent Hena Cuevas, who joins us now again by telephone.
Any updates for us?
CUEVAS: We just heard from William Stone, its under-sheriff of the L.A. Country Sheriff's Department, who says that they are still in communication with Mr. Beck and they hope that he will be coming out any time soon. One comments he made is that he's hoping that he'll be wise enough to leave.
As you can see from aerial images, the fire is completely engulfing the home, is completely taken over the top floor. There is concern about the homes surrounding that home because they can't really bring in a fire engine to start controlling it.
They say that they have been in phone contact with Mr. Beck. We weren't told when was the last time they had phone communication. And there has been shooting between agents and Mr. Beck. We also don't know when the last time that shooting happened.
We also heard from Latese Baker from the ATF, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who said that basically it was all part of a federal firearms ongoing investigation, and that none of their agents were shot.
Earlier, there had been reports that it had not only been just the deputy sheriff who had been shot, but also an ATF agent. But she said that no -- at this point, no ATF agents hurt.
There's also concern about the children who are pretty much getting out of school at this time. One of the things that Mr. Stone had said was that basically anybody whose children go to that school, the kids will be kept at the school, so the parents are to go there and pick them up, because they're not letting anybody into the neighborhood until this is own -- Donna.
ALLEN: A question for you. We know that James Beck is the only person in this house, but did he have a family, or did he live here alone? Do we know that?
CUEVAS: From what we understand, earlier this morning we spoke to one of the neighbors who says he lives across the street from Mr. Beck, and he described him as a very nice neighbor, that they would -- the guy would go to the swimming pool, they would hang out with him, they would watch "The Sopranos" on Sunday. He said he lived alone, he moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, and he claimed that he was a federal marshal, and that is one of the things that sheriff's department have said, is that they will arrest him for impersonating a federal marshal.
ALLEN: And where are the people who've been evacuated? How are sheriff's deputies communicating with the folks that no doubt are really concerned about their homes -- if they're watching live television, the homes that are next door to this house, are the people in one area there that have been evacuated?
CUEVAS: Especially when you look at that video and you realize that those homes are very, very close together. And there is concern that the fire could leap to another home.
And we did ask them, you know, how long are you going to let this fire burn before you jump in and try and do something? But he didn't really answer the question. He said they were just kind of hoping for Mr. Beck to eventually leave. Those who have been evacuated, some of the people are just hanging out, neighbors together, concerned about what's going on. Other people who are still in the area have been told to stay inside, to just kind of wait until they let them know when everything is safe and when they can come back out. Other people are being turned away -- people who were out of their home this morning -- because this happened about 8:40 Pacific time, and they've been told just to stay away. And that's how we ran into some of the neighbors who have been just waiting just a little ways out past the command center.
ALLEN: Yes, this no doubt disrupting many lives of the people who live around there, and schoolchildren, as you say. There have been special instructions for kids that are getting out of school there. Do you know how many officers were on the scene initially this morning when they went to serve this arrest warrant?
CUEVAS: We don't have a number of the specific ATF agents, but they did go in to present their search warrant. We don't know what the warrant was for. When the suspect started shooting, that is when the sheriff's deputies from L.A. County came by to help, and that is when Deputy Sheriff Jake Kuredjian, a 17-year-old veteran of the force, was shot. And we just heard just recently that unfortunately he died. A lot of his family members are on the way to the hospital. He has a girlfriend and a brother who are now going into counseling.
But it was basically a call from the ATF to get some help from the deputies, trying to get this guy.
ALLEN: All right Hena, we thank you; Hena Cuevas there for CNN on the scene. We did see a highly emotional sheriff announce the death of his deputy Jake Kuredjian a short time ago during a news conference. Clearly upset by this death that occurred as a result of the shooting that took place at the home you're now seeing, which is engulfed in flames.
At first fire officials were throwing water direct on this house. They don't appear to be doing that now. They appear just to be keeping these -- this long shot of water on the homes that are next door.
And as you can see the house -- the roof is gone. Flames have come through the roof, and this house continues to burn with no word on the whereabouts of the gunman inside.
KELLEY: Looks like the second floor is pretty well shot now.
And as we pointed out to you a couple of times, it started on the right-hand side, moved to the left. And you can see that it's just pretty well taken over the whole part of the second floor. It looks like an area in the garage -- doesn't seem to be some smoke out of there, and we don't know what the situation could be on the first floor. But as far as that second floor, that's pretty well gone now. And we've talked about the possibility of, certainly, smoke inhalation and how deadly that can be.
The sheriff earlier, when we were in the news conference said -- there goes a helicopter -- that they believe, as far as they knew, that the suspect, 35-year-old James Beck was alone in the home and he said that they were hoping that they could end this with no injuries other than the death, certainly, of the deputy, Jake Kuredjian -- any more injuries, including to the suspect, saying that he hoped that he was smart enough to leave. And at the time that he talked, probably maybe 10 minutes ago that we brought you that live here on CNN, he said that they were continuing to communicate, continuing to talk with the suspect with a crisis negotiation team.
And there you can see, still water being sprayed from a distance. And Natalie earlier talked to someone from the fire department, and they were told to stay back because at that point the suspect was still shooting at deputies on the scene. And so what they did is moved into position, as you can see as we get this long shot here -- so that they were able to at least get some water going on the house and on the two homes that are right next to this home to try and protect those.
ALLEN: At first the fire department said that they wouldn't go in and try to knock down the fire that's burning in this home where the suspect was, but they did end up putting some fire on it before they turned their hoses on the houses next door to try to keep them from burning as well.
But as you pointed out, Donna, fire officials keeping their distance from this home, as are law officers, still just not knowing the whereabouts of the man who was reported to be heavily armed in this house, who shot -- fired several shots this morning and ended up killing a deputy.
KELLEY: And on the phone right now with us is Denise Jansen. She's with the Newhall school district, which is one of the school districts that is affected. We had heard earlier that some of the kids were being kept at school, and some of other ones might be moved to a different school.
Denise, are you there?
DENISE JANSEN, NEWHALL SCHOOL DISTRICT: Yes, I'm here, thanks.
KELLEY: Hi, thank you.
Can you tell us, for your school district, what the procedure is for parents and how many kids are affected?
JANSEN: OK. We are sending both our main campus at Stevenson Ranch and the north campus over to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Elementary School where the children will be waiting for the parents. The parents will be able to pick the children up whenever the parents can arrive. We will wait there for the parents. The parents need to show ID, and we will sign the children out to them.
KELLEY: And how many children are we talking about?
JANSEN: I have the just an approximate number of maybe 1,200. We have multi-track schools here, and some kids track off and on, so that number does vary throughout the year.
KELLEY: And how old are they? What ages?
JANSEN: We have kindergarten through sixth grade.
KELLEY: OK. And with your school district here, does that cover all the children, or would there be other school districts and other children that would be...
JANSEN: No, well, both Stevenson Ranch campuses are within our school district.
KELLEY: And would those be the only ones that would cover this neighborhood?
JANSEN: That's correct.
KELLEY: OK, so we're talking about approximately 1,200 children, K through six, and parents can pick them up with the ID that you've moved to this other school. How are you contacting the parents to let them know this?
JANSEN: Well, there are several news channels that are letting them know about Meadows Elementary School, and we are manning the phones.
KELLEY: And have some of the parents actually called in to you? Have they heard this news, or...
JANSEN: Yes, quite a few of them have. It seems to be very orderly, and most people are very calm about it. We're just doing it -- preventative measures to make sure the children are safe.
KELLEY: pretty close distance to the school that you are moving the children?
JANSEN: Yes, it is.
KELLEY: Are you busing them there?
JANSEN: Yes, we have quite a few buses that the district owned, so they were readily at hand for the children.
KELLEY: How are the children? Are you able to tell us how the children are reacting? You said the parents are fairly calm, how about the kids?
JANSEN: Well, I am actually away from that location, and we're manning the phones, so I imagine most of our teachers are pretty calm individuals. And as long as the teachers are in good spirits, usually the children are.
KELLEY: OK, Denise Jansen who's with the Newhall school district telling us that the children are being moved to a location that parents will know about, and that the parents may pick them up with identification, affecting about 1,200 children K through six. Denise, thanks very much.
JANSEN: Thank you.
ALLEN: And if you're noticing, we're getting our first glimpse of the front of this home, where the garage is. it still appears that, from our vantage point, that this fire may just be on the second floor of the home. That's just speculation, because we can't get a clearer picture than this.
Hena Cuevas is there at the scene.
Perhaps you can take us back as to how this all began again, and tell us more about the negotiations that lead to this -- the tear gas that was dropped in the home.
CUEVAS: Basically it all started, police say, around 8:30 this morning Pacific time, when ATF agents came to James Beck's home to serve a search warrant. We don't know what the warrant was for, but they came in to serve the warrant, and that's when the shooting started.
The ATF then went ahead and called the deputy sheriff's department. That's when the sheriff's department showed up to provide some assistance. There was additional gunfire; that was when one of the deputies was shot.
Just recently we heard that, unfortunately, he just died. His name was Jake Kuredjian, 17-year-old veteran of the force. He was not married. His girlfriend and the brother were at the hospital and currently are going under -- being counseled. He is 40 years old, and family members are also on the way.
They say that they have been in contact with Mr. Beck, a 35-year- old male who has claimed that he was a U.S. Marshal. They have been on the phone trying to negotiate some kind of a peaceful resolution. A little while ago, about two hours ago, a helicopter came by here to the command center, which is about a mile from the home, and they started unloading additional troops, additional weapons, and they started taking those over to the location.
We saw, with the aerial shots, there was tear gas that was coming out of the house, and then the fire that you can see going on. The fire department was saying that the heat is probably so intense that they don't know why he still hasn't come out.
Also, like you mentioned, the smoke inhalation is probably very -- also really bad. We also heard from William Stoner, the under- sheriff of the L.A. County Department. And he had a very interesting quote when we asked him how much longer they were going to let this get before they went in. And he said, quote: "I hope Mr. Beck is smart enough to get out of the house."
And that's what they're hoping, is that he will eventually come out. They didn't tell us when they would go in to try and tame this fire, which is just burning out of control, and making sure that the homes next door are still safe -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, and as we've listen to you, the helicopter has given us a different angle. You can see flames on the first floor as well in this home -- the entire home is burning now.
Can you tell us, Hena, how long the shots between the agents and Beck inside went on? How long did he shoot at law officers?
CUEVAS: We don't have a specific time frame. They did mention that there were between eight to 10 shots. And also during the entire morning there have been shots. For example, when the helicopter came in to take the deputy sheriff to the hospital, apparently Mr. Beck also shot at the helicopter.
They do believe he's heavily armed. We haven't gotten word of what kind of weapons he has inside the house, but that is why they're staying away. That's why the fire engines aren't getting close. That's why the police aren't getting close, is because they have been shot at before, and they're just waiting for him to come out -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And when they started to put water on these other homes, they did put some water on this house that is going up in flames right now just for a short while, but then they turned their water hoses onto the houses next door. So for a short time they attempted to spray down this house which you see, which is burning there in the Stevenson Ranch neighborhood.
Hena, can you tell us more about this neighborhood. Where is it in location to Los Angeles. Did the folks that live in this neighborhood commute into L.A.? How big is it?
CUEVAS: The community is about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, and it's described as a fairly affluent community with a lot of law enforcement officials living in the area.
They've -- neighbors that we've spoken to say it's very quiet, it's very safe, and that's why they're incredibly surprised that something like this would he happen and that somebody like Mr. Beck would be living in the neighborhood. He moved in about a year ago.
But basically most of these people -- it's just a suburb of Los Angeles, they commute to L.A., most of them to work. And like I mentioned before, a lot of them tend to be law enforcement officials.
ALLEN: Do you know if there -- I know you're -- you can't move from the one location where you are, but do you know if there's a command center set up by the deputies to help answer questions from folks who live in this neighborhood who might be arriving back once they heard what's going on?
CUEVAS: We're at the press command center, which is about a mile from the neighborhood. The neighbors who are being evacuated are kept in a separate area, which we were told we could move to and there would be additional information over in that section. And that's a couple of blocks further away. But they've been keeping us updated as soon as they get additional information. Because it was a federal operation, they are being very tight-lipped. There were some comments from the ATF basically saying that it was an ongoing weapons investigation and that none of their agents were hurt earlier this morning. There had been rumors that one ATF agent had been injured and said that no, that their agents are all fine.
So we aren't getting much information from the ATF, and that's what we're waiting for. The sheriff's department has said that they can't share anything more, we have to wait for the ATF. And hopefully later on this afternoon once this is over we'll be able to get some additional information.
ALLEN: All right, we'll let you go work the scene there. Thank you, Hena Cuevas.
Again, we continue to watch more flames shoot from this home. The fire department is not fighting this fire at the moment. They haven't for some time now. They continue to just pour water on the homes next to it. So letting this fire continue there.
We did hear from the sheriff, Sheriff Lee Baca earlier during a news conference when he announced, very emotionally, the death of one of his deputies, that they were going to this home to question this suspect for impersonating a federal officer. Apparently neighbors had told them that -- he had told neighbors that he was a federal marshal. So that's the only information that we have on James Beck.
The man who was in communication with officers who were trying to talk him out of his home before this fire began we don't know. The sheriff's department hasn't been able to say when their communications were cut off, or if they've been. But we only know what you can see there on your screen: that this house has gone up in flames. It's about 12:30 in Los Angeles. This has been going on then, for almost four hours.
KELLEY: Yes, started around 8:45 or 8:30 this morning. I think it was 8:45 Los Angeles time, which is 11:45 Eastern time when the deputy sheriffs from L.A. County, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF agents went there to serve a search warrant. And allegedly the person inside, the suspect, 35-year-old James Beck started firing back on them.
A sheriff's deputy for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department was hit in the face area, is what was told to us earlier here at CNN and, as we've told you, he did pass away -- 40 years old, Jake Kuredjian, almost half of his life he was with the force, 17 years on the force there. They have identified him and they have notified his mother and brother and girlfriend, and they are on their way to Santa Clarita, where this is happening.
ALLEN: As we said earlier...
KELLEY: Oh, I'm sorry, Hena Cuevas is there on the scene with a little bit more information for us -- Hena? CUEVAS: Yes, Natalie (sic), we have with us Harry Drucker, a deputy from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.
We're looking at these images of this fire that's just engulfing this house. What can you tell us about the situation of the fire and the home surrounding it?
SGT. HARRY DRUCKER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Well, since I've been here at the command post I haven't been advised of how the fire started. I actually heard from you and some of the other reporters here about the fire starting. So we have no information on how it started at this point.
CUEVAS: Do you know if you guys have been in contact with Mr. Beck at all?
DRUCKER: The suspect, Mr. Beck, has been in contact with, first the ATF agents -- I don't know if our hostage negotiation team has made contact with him. At one point we were in contact with him, but I don't know how that went. I'm still waiting to get that information.
CUEVAS: What have you heard about the status of the homes surrounding Mr. Beck's house?
DRUCKER: I have no information about, that I'm sorry.
CUEVAS: What can you tell us about Mr. Beck and the ongoing investigation?
DRUCKER: Well, as the investigation is ongoing, and it's a federal investigation that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, we don't have the full story yet. All we do know is what our involvement was, which was to assist them in serving the search warrant, and the information that there were numerous rounds fired during the service of the search warrant, and one of them unfortunately struck and killed one of our deputies.
CUEVAS: Any there going to be any charges filed in relation to the death of the deputy?
DRUCKER: You could probably count on that, yes.
CUEVAS: Wonderful, thank you very much.
That was Harry Drucker, a deputy at the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.
Back to you Donna.
KELLEY: All right, Hena Cuevas there on the scene as we continue to watch this.
And now we see black smoke coming. It looked like the second floor of this house was absolutely shot. It looks like it's burning now more toward the side of the garage and the front. And probably -- you were thinking, Natalie, earlier that it had spread down to the first floor. It looked like it kicked up just a matter of minutes ago -- it really kicked up again. But now it looks like it's going lower. Now it looks like, from that shot, that it is definitely burning on the first floor down there. You can see on the front right-hand side, if you look, they'll pull the shot out for us a little bit there.
ALLEN: And the second floor appears gone at this point.
KELLEY: Yes, the second floor is still burning on the upper right-hand side. But aside from that, it's pretty well burned out on the second floor up there.
And you can see the fire department -- they seem to be concentrating on the one house now that's close to it. And before they were spraying water on both the houses that were closest, from a vantage point from the back, that they moved in from a safe distance, since at the time it was really going up in flames at the first part of incident, they needed to do it from a safe distance because the sheriff's department was saying that the suspect inside was still shooting at the deputies.
And so we continue to watch this as the flames continue. And we still don't know the whereabouts of the suspect, but the sheriff earlier said that they, as far as they knew, that he was the only person in that home -- 35-year-old James Beck alone in that home.
And at that point they were trying to say that the crisis negotiation team had been in contact with him and they were trying to talk to the man on the telephone and hoping for a peaceful surrender and at point that they were still saying that they had been in contact and were still talking with him this house was fully in flames.
And as you just heard the spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department say he does not know how this started. They had been in contact with the suspect. It's a federal investigation, so ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will have more information on that. But they were called in -- the L.A. County Sheriff's Department was called in to assist, and that numerous rounds were fired when sheriff's deputies and ATF agents showed up this morning to serve a search warrant. They were going to arrest him on charges of impersonating a federal officer and for some weapons charges as well.
So we continue to watch this burn, and now we're getting, it looks like, some more water going on the -- both houses once again as they try to protect those houses that are on both sides. And we did get a little more information too about the children who live in this neighborhood who are in school. Denise Jansen, who is with Newhall School District, told us just a few minutes ago here on CNN that they have moved the children from their regular school and moved them to a different school, and they bused them over to a different school so that parents would be able to pick up the children with identification. About 1,200 she estimated -- about 1,200 children involved. But they were manning the phones, getting word out to parents. And some parents were calling in, kindergarten to sixth- graders, about 1,200 children who were being moved so that parents could pick them up from a different location.
ALLEN: Right after this fire broke out -- this fire at this home burned for almost 10 minutes before the fire department started to move in, throw some water on it, and then attended to the other homes nearby. But an official with the L.A. County Fire Department came on the phone and told us that the Sheriff's Department would give them the word when they felt it was safe that they could get close enough to try to keep this fire from spreading. But the word was they weren't to get close to this home and try to fight the fire until the gunman inside came out with his hands up. And apparently that never happened, because they still haven't been fighting this fire.
And as you can see, the patrol cars still surrounding this home, but no word from the Sheriff's Department that James Beck, the lone gunman inside this home, ever came out.
KELLEY: And a sheriff's deputy was killed here today: 40-year- old Jake Kuredjian, who was with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department for 17 years. Earlier, we had been told he was hit in the face area and he did pass away. And one of the neighbors, who did not want to give his name to us here at CNN, but told us that the man, as he put it, seemed like a good neighbor. He came over and swam in our pool every day, and we ate dinner with him. And he said that the man would come over on Sundays, and they would watch the series "The Sopranos" with him. And so they had no indication that anything like this obviously would happen.
ALLEN: Very different story today. Gun -- excuse me, law officers arrived at this home to serve a warrant and a gun battle broke out, probably to the shock of many of the people that live here, no doubt. We talked with a neighbor who was still in her home watching the fire on the phone with us about 20 minutes ago. She's a couple of blocks away, so she did not have to evacuate her home. In fact, she told us when she was heading out of her house, after hearing so much noise from sirens, that sheriff's deputies stopped her, and told her to go back inside and not to leave her home, that there was a sniper in the area.
So now that you see this wide scene of the neighborhood, there are people in the homes nearby trying to wait this out. So -- with law officers, until law officers knock on their door and tell them everything is safe and it's OK, there are a lot of people in this neighborhood who can't get out, and as you can see, there's a lot of folks who can't get in. So this is disrupting many lives in Santa Clarita this afternoon.
KELLEY: And some of those folks in the neighborhood were evacuated, and that person that you visited with, I forget earlier, what did they say? Were they gathered together somewhere that was close at hand?
ALLEN: Hena had reported that there is a command center for the media, which is a mile away from the scene, but there's also an area where law officers are with neighbors, to help them through this, and keeping them safe and sound, and giving them whatever information they have. But a good bet no one knows any information right now as far as what has happened to the man inside this home today.
KELLEY: If we could get close enough and if we can get some confirmation here pretty soon, we'll certainly want to know if the shots are still being fired and how long it's been since any shots may or may not have been fired from this house, because that could give us an indication of what's happened to the suspect, James Beck, 35-year- old James Beck, inside this house.
But as you can see, the top floor of this house is completely gone, and now it's spread, certainly, to the first floor, and it looks like the garage is starting to smoke through the roof there, as you look at the live pictures with us right there courtesy of KCAL.
So, you know, we've been watching this for -- what? -- maybe an hour at the most probably, and we were watching it earlier when they were firing what we thought was tear gas, which has been later confirmed now, and then when it burst into flames.
So it -- it may not be much longer until the entire house has been taken by this fire. And at that point, certainly, we'll be able to get some answers on the suspect, because unless he was able to flee the house without officers seeing him and unless he was able to be in a safe place where smoke inhalation could not get to him, which is what a lot of folks die from in a fire, is smoke inhalation, then it will be an answer that we'll be looking for.
ALLEN: Do we have a picture yet of the deputy who was shot today? There he is. That is the deputy who, we are sad to report, was shot and killed today, Deputy Jake Kuredjian, who had been with the Sheriff's Department for a very long time. And...
KELLEY: 17 years.
ALLEN: 17 years. He is single, but had a girlfriend and a mother from Michigan who the Sheriff's Department said they were flying into L.A. And we have again Hena Cuevas with us. She is at the press center there, just about a mile from this house. We certainly, Hena, saw a very emotional sheriff talk about the loss of this deputy today.
CUEVAS: Donna, like you said, we just got a picture of the deputy. Everybody here is incredibly sad at the death of the deputy. The way it happened is apparently this morning around 8:45 when the ATF -- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- came in to present Mr. Beck with a search warrant -- at this point we don't know what the warrant was for -- Mr. Beck started shooting at the agents. They called the Sheriff's Department to get some additional help. That's when the deputies showed up. There was gunfire, and that's when he got shot.
He was then airlifted to a local hospital. Mr. Beck, apparently heavily armed, started shooting at the helicopter that was carrying the injured deputy. The deputy was taken to the hospital and we just heard a little while ago that he unfortunately has died.
We are at a command center about a mile away from where the fire is taking place. A lot of the neighbors have been evacuated. Those that haven't have been told to remain in their homes. We were able to speak to some of the neighbors who weren't able to get back into the house. They weren't necessarily evacuated. They were just blocked from coming into the neighborhood. And as you mentioned, the neighbor that we spoke to says they lived right across the street from Mr. Beck, had said that he moved into the neighborhood about a year ago. He didn't really say where he was from.
He said: Well, he just kind of said he was from California and from all over the place, and they didn't think anything of it, since a lot of people here in Southern California tend to be transplants and tend to be from somewhere else.
They did find it strange that investigators did come to their house a few days ago, asking them just general questions about Mr. Beck. And they knew that something strange was going on, but it was very surprising to them that it would come to this -- Donna.
KELLEY: Hena, I'm not sure you'll be able to get this information yet, because I know you're at the command center, which is about a mile away, as I understand it, from the fire. But have they got any late information to you about how long it may have been since they've heard shots there. Before they were saying he was still shooting at deputies on the scene. Have you heard if he still is or if those shots have stopped for a while?
CUEVAS: Because this is a federal investigation, a lot of the information has to come through the ATF. So the Sheriff's Department has told us that they knew there was gunfire, that there was gunfire recently. They weren't able to tell us exactly when it was the last time that there had been shots. They also weren't able to tell us when the last time it was that they spoke to Mr. Beck on the phone.
They had been saying that were on the phone, they've been on the phone with him all morning and all afternoon, trying to negotiate some kind of a peaceful resolution. They say he's still inside the house, but if you look at that video, it's amazing that he still hasn't come out.
We had a press conference with William Stonich, who's the undersheriff of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. And when we asked him about those houses and about the fire and how much longer it was going to be before they were going to let the fire department come in, he had a really good quote. And he said, I quote: "I hope Mr. Beck is smart enough to get out of the house." So, that's what they're hoping for, is that he will eventually surrender and get out of the house.
Until he does that and until they get word, the fire department can't come in. And I'm pretty much sure that the neighbors next door are a little bit concerned about that fire, because it is -- it is growing.
KELLEY: And the fire department has been able to -- and there, we just have a roof collapse now as we watch the live pictures here as that second story is, as we've been telling you, pretty well gone for some time. But then they just had a wall, or probably I guess it was a wall that collapsed there over top of the garage, and you can see the first floor burning certainly.
Hena, when they were telling us, as we heard earlier, that they were still in contact with the crisis negotiation team with them, have they given you an idea when the last time was that they were able to talk with him, some sort of timeframe there? You know, a half hour ago, 45 minutes? Anything like that were they telling you?
CUEVAS: So far they're being incredibly tight-lipped. Like I said, they said it's a federal investigation, it's ongoing, and any information we get is going to have to come from the ATF.
KELLEY: And has the ATF told you when they might have a briefing or when they might have some information available to you?
CUEVAS: Nothing. They just had a briefing a few minutes ago, and the only thing they said is that it was an ongoing federal investigation and that none of their agents had been hurt, because earlier this morning there had been the rumor that one of the ATF agents had been shot and they came out and they said: No, all of our agents are fine, and we will be answering questions later on. They didn't give us a specific time.
So pretty much we're just waiting for any additional information. Everything we're getting is through the sheriff's department, and that is all that they've given us.
KELLEY: OK. Hena Cuevas, thanks very much for getting the information that you can coming from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. But as they say, it's an ongoing federal investigation, and so most of that information has to come from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF. They were along with agents -- the agents from the ATF and the Sheriff's Deputies in L.A., who were trying to serve that search warrant this morning at about 8:45 local time there in Santa Clarita, California, when the suspect, 35- year-old James Beck, started shooting back. And as we reported to you earlier, one sheriff with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department did die today: 40-year-old Jake Kuredjian, who spent 17 years on the force there.
ALLEN: And as you can see from these pictures, the garage, as Donna mentioned, starting to burn now. This will be the last part of the house to catch fire. The rest of the house has burned, and perhaps we can rewind the video we showed you earlier for anyone who is just joining us.
We can show you what this house looked like just about an hour ago before this fire broke out. We could even see the tear gas that was dropped on the roof of this home.
Can we get that?
KELLEY: Maybe while we try to pull that together -- those are some pictures that we have. In the meantime -- it was a short time ago that the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Lee Baca, did announce that they had lost one of their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Deputy Kuredjian was assisting members of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency of the federal government in executing a search warrant regarding a suspect who had been impersonating a federal officer. During the course of his effort to apprehend this suspect, Deputy Kuredjian was shot with what we believe is one shot and therein fatally wounded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLEY: So there we have Sheriff Lee Baca announcing that they did lose one of their own today, Jake Kuredjian, who was 40 years old: 17 years on the force. And he was shot this morning as he was with ATF agents and L.A. County Sheriff's Deputies as they went to serve a search warrant on a suspect, 35-year-old James Beck, who, as we heard earlier from another Sheriff's Department spokesman, they believe, as far as they know, that he is alone in this home. And as you can see as we look at live pictures once again, there probably won't be much time left before this house is completely gone. The garage now on fire, and if you look to the right-hand side of your screen down on the first floor, that is engulfed in flames as well.
And hopefully, we'll get a wider shot here. The camera folks will probably pull back for us, and we can show you that earlier the two homes directly on each side of this home that's been burning, they were spraying those homes with water. They did get some water on the house that was burning, and then they were concentrating on trying to protect the two houses closest to the house that was on fire.
ALLEN: I think we do now have the video rewound from earlier when we were watching this story unfold. Yes, here it comes. This is what the house looked like. There -- there goes some tear gas that was fired in this home. We even saw the back window shatter as well a few moments later.
At some point in the negotiations, law officers started trying to get the suspect out of this home. There goes the back window, you can see there.
This happened earlier in the home, but there's been no conclusion or no investigation obviously of whether the tear gas is what ignited this fire. But this happened probably a couple of hours ago, hour and a half ago when we were starting to bring you live coverage of this. And now you can see what has transpired, the house fully engulfed in flames.
KELLEY: And once again, we'll go back to our correspondent there on the scene, Hena Cuevas -- Hena.
CUEVAS: Yes, we have with us Latese Baker with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who just recently held a short press conference. Latese, what can you tell us as far as the operation today?
BAKER: OK, we were here -- we were brought here to this scene due to a federal firearms violation. It was an investigation that ATF was conducting.
Also I did confirm that all of our agents are accounted for. No one is injured at this time from the gunshot -- wounds. But I also would like to express my deepest sympathy to the deputy sheriff that was courageous in coming to assist ATF.
CUEVAS: Ms. Baker, when will you guys be providing additional information, how will you be handling that? Because the Sheriff's Department was saying you guys were handling the investigation, therefore, all the information needs to come from you.
BAKER: Right, we are conducting the investigation in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. We would like to provide updates to you periodically throughout the day, but especially as the information comes forward to us. That way everything is accurate and we can make sure that you get the information that you all need.
CUEVAS: Wonderful. Thank you very much.
BAKER: Thank you.
CUEVAS: That was Latese Baker with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who were the ones who were conducting this operation at around 8:30 this morning Pacific Time. They went ahead to serve a search warrant to Mr. Beck, and that's when the gunfire started. They called to request some help from the deputies. One of the deputies was shot in the gunfire, and a few hours later this is where we're at. The home is completely engulfed in flames. The ATF is the one handling all the information. They're are the ones who are aware of the operation, the status of the negotiations. So as soon as we get that information, we'll get that to you.
KELLEY: All right, Hena Cuevas there at the press command center. Thanks very much.
And the spokeswoman there said that they were there to serve that search warrant this morning because of federal firearms violations. And we had heard earlier that they were to arrest him for impersonating a federal officer as well.
And just to bring you up to speed, if you're just joining us, as we approach the top of the hour within a couple of minutes, they did lose a sheriff's deputy, one Jake Kuredjian, 40 years old, 17 years on the force there. L.A. County Sheriff's Department was assisting agents from the ATF, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as they went to serve a search warrant this morning at this house at about a quarter to 9:00 00 local time there. And at that point, shots were fired back, and now we see a rescue helicopter arriving. Oh, this is tape from this morning. OK, thanks very much. We had confirmation in fact this morning that the gunman had fired at a fire department helicopter that was hovering to the scene. But here you get an idea of what went on earlier in the day as they were preparing to deal with this situation that they found themselves in as they were going to serve the search warrant on the suspect, who is now named, James Beck, 35 years old. And we're back to live pictures.
So as you can see, we've been watching this for -- what? -- a couple of hours now, a couple of hours, and as we pointed out to you -- and you can see it as well as we can as you look at the pictures, the house is pretty well shot. The garage looks as though it's the last to go. And we still don't know what has happened to, as sheriff's deputies thought, was the lone suspect in this house.
ALLEN: Law officers haven't moved since this fire broke out. There are patrol cars in the street in front of this home. It appears there's one officer, of course, crouched behind a -- one of those cars there.
There's been no movement at all that we've been able to tell from our helicopter vantage point from inside that house where they believe James Beck was when this fire broke out. And we earlier, if you're just joining us and wondering why isn't anyone fighting this fire, they believe the man that was in that house -- was considered armed with many weapons, and dangerous, since he allegedly shot and killed a deputy, and shot at officers. So the Sheriff's Department would not allow the fire department to come in and try to knock down this fire.
When they finally did move in, the fire department, they did put some water on the fire initially, but then broke away and continued to spray water on the homes next door, which apparently they have had success in saving these homes and preventing this fire from spreading to the homes nearby.
KELLEY: We got a picture of some of the neighborhood there. We told you earlier that some of neighbors had been evacuated. And as we had a camera shot there went around some of the scene in the area for us a little bit here, we were able to see, it looked like, some of the neighbors who were in their garage who were peeking around to see if they could see a little bit more of what the scene was going on here, as they continue to wait out and see what has happened to the suspect in this house, who earlier sheriff's deputies thought was alone. Earlier they didn't know, but then that was the latest information we got earlier this afternoon, that James Beck, the suspect, was alone in those home.
We told you earlier, but we might just let you know if you're just joining us, too, that certainly children from this neighborhood -- it's about 1 o'clock in the afternoon in L.A. right now. So it would be a little while before the kids would come home from school anyway. But they have already prepared for this, and what they did is move children from the Newhall school district.
We talked with a woman from the school district there -- and moved them over to another school, bused them over, and then they were notifying parents, they were talking on the phone or parents were calling in, and it involved probably, an estimate was about 1,200 children, from kindergarten through sixth grade, and then the parents were going to be able to come and pick them up with identification to get the kids who live in this neighborhood after this incident has happened here.
ALLEN: And also, if you are just joining us -- pardon me if you said this just a moment ago, Donna -- they were in communication, according to the sheriff's department, with the man inside. At one point, there were negotiation under way. We have received no details from the ATF or the sheriff's department. Apparently, the ATF that is in charge of this investigation, as we just heard from an agent at the press command center, but they are not saying anything about the details of the negotiations and the decision to drop tear gas, the fire.
There's been no comments from officials about this fire, about the whereabouts of the suspect, or negotiations. They are all apparently just waiting this out right now and still making sure that this is a safe scene for neighbors in the area.
KELLEY: As we come to two minutes after the hour here, it's almost two minutes after 4:00 East Coast time, 1:00 -- a couple of minutes after 1:00 on the West Coast, and let's check in with our correspondent who is there on the scene, Hena Cuevas -- Hena.
CUEVAS: Yes, the last thing we heard from the deputy sheriff's department is that they are trying to coordinate a press conference. What they don't know at this point -- there is actually -- the press command center, which we're at right now, which is about a mile from the site, and there's another area where they said the press could move, and half of the press has moved over there, and half of the press is still on this site, so they're trying to figure out which site will be the official site for the press conference so they can start giving us some updates.
The second site is a little bit closer to the home, and according to the deputies' department, they said we could probably see some smoke from the house from that location, so at this point they say they can't give us anything else until they figure out how they are going to coordinate the large number of press individuals -- radio, print, TV who are here, plus all of the neighbors who also have questions. So, that's kind of the status that it is at right now -- Donna.
KELLEY: OK. Hena Cuevas who is there. And I know that you are a little bit further away from us, and we are able to see live pictures here. As we continue to watch those, most of the house looks to be now almost burned completely through. The garage is -- looks to be the last to go, and they are actually spraying some water now as we look trying to protect the two houses on the side closest to them.
Any other information from the folks, Hena, that you were able to get from when the last time that they were able to communicate -- for folks who are just joining us, when was the last time they were able to communicate with the crisis negotiation team and the suspect? CUEVAS: Well, I think the deputy sheriff's department mentioned is that apparently the negotiating team was in touch with Mr. Beck during the entire morning and the afternoon, and they were trying to come to some kind of a peaceful resolution, they were negotiating with him, asking him to surrender. However, they say that they have still been in touch with him. We don't know when the last time it was that they talked to him.
They believe he's inside the house, which is kind of amazing when you look at the pictures of the home and how it's just been burnt to the ground. There is concern about the homes surrounding it. Firefighters say they can't go in to help until they get the word from the investigators that they can go in and that it is safe, because Mr. Beck is believed to be heavily armed.
He did shoot at deputies and ATF agents, and he also, according to the deputy sheriff's department, and he also allegedly when the helicopter flew away to take the deputy that was hurt, he allegedly started shooting at it. So, they believe he's armed and dangerous, so they don't want anybody getting close to the home, so they are just pretty much waiting it out.
And at this point, we asked them: "When are you guys going to jump in and eventually stop the fire, start putting out the fire, protect these homes?" And we got an interesting quote from William Stonich, the undersheriff of the L.A. County sheriff's department who said: "I hope Mr. Beck is smart enough to get out of the house" -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, Hena Cuevas, we thank you.
We have on the phone with us Brian Jordan with the L.A. County fire department. Brian, we talked with you just as this fire broke out, just before the fire department started to work the homes around it to try to save them. Any information on how this all started?
JORDAN: Well, how the fire actually started will be under investigation. Right now, we are going with is we saw the fire burst from the second floor to the first floor. Question have been, why the fire takes so long to burn -- well, it burns from top to bottom as opposed to bottom to the top.
One concern we have now -- if you look at the walls of the structure, it looks like they can fall, so the integrity of the structure is going to be a question, and again, that will keep us away -- number one, we can't get into the building until the sheriff's department tells us. Number two, we need to make sure the walls are safe before we move in.
ALLEN: Any word from the sheriff's department on why at this point you can't go in and put this fire out?
JORDAN: They are going to be very careful with themselves and us. And one thing they don't want to do is have anyone else get injured, and they do not know the status of the suspect, so when they know the status of the suspect, then they can make their determination on what they do and what we do.
ALLEN: Is it impossible to tell -- even though we've watched, Brian, all the smoke in this house and the roof collapsed, and the entire home in flames, is there a chance, can you say whether anyone could possibly be alive in this house?
JORDAN: Once in a while, we do pull people from fires like this, and they do survive. And the sheriff's department, L.A. County sheriff's department is going to take every precaution to ensure that no firefighters or additional deputies get injured. Unfortunately, one deputy did die from this, and they're not going to let that happen again.
ALLEN: We've seen the fire officials pouring water on these large homes that are right next door. Do they feel pretty confident that they have saved these homes?
JORDAN: Correct. What our procedure in most fires is to protect exposures first, and what we did -- we did not get injured from any potential sniper fires, put all of our fire trucks in strategic locations where anyone at the house cannot get to it. You can see from a distance where we -- at one point, we were actually mopping the water, maybe 500 to 1,000 gallons per minute, pushing it over the house and cooling the houses on the side of the burning house.
ALLEN: Any idea how long this house could continue to burn?
JORDAN: Actually, depending on what else is in the house, it could burn for a while, but the first -- the second floor is obviously gone, the first floor where we still have the walls and we have other materials may be in the garage that could burn, so we are going to be very, very careful, and again, we're not going to actually move in until the sheriff's department gives us the OK.
ALLEN: And any word when that might happen? What happens when this fire burns itself out?
JORDAN: When it burns itself out, actually it will use up all the fuel, then there will be nothing left to burn, of course, the fire will go out. However, now we have to deal with the structural integrity, in addition to moving into this building, you need firefighting gear. We have firefighters who are waiting for the sheriff's department to tell us when we can move in. Well, they may need our assistance actually to determine if the building is safe, and again, they are going to have to do their special operation, actually get in and determine the status of the suspect.
ALLEN: And as you mentioned that there is the chance that we could see the walls of this home collapse?
JORDAN: That's a possibility. This particular building, the house has been burning for a while, so you -- it's obvious that the entire structural integrity has been compromised.
ALLEN: But all the other homes are safe from fire at this point? JORDAN: The homes on both sides, we did our best to keep them safe. I don't see any broken windows. And we put foam and water on them -- again, that's our job, to protect the life and property.
ALLEN: Well, we thank you again for talking with us. And we -- on what is a busy day for your fire crews, Brian Jordan with the L.A. County fire department.
There were fire crews, we want to mention, on the scene this morning when the shooting broke out at this home. So, fire trucks were sitting just down the street from this home when this fire broke out. And apparently had to wait for word from the sheriff's department before they could move in and try to put a little bit of water on this house, which they did, but then mainly concentrate on the homes next door to make sure the fire didn't spread.
So thanks again to Brian Jordan for talking with us. But again, no word from Brian or the sheriff's department at this point on the suspect. We can speculate that they just don't know his whereabouts or his status.
KELLEY: As we continue to look at live pictures here -- and he was talking about -- your fire department spokesman -- was talking about walls collapsing, and we thought we saw a wall collapse over the garage and toward the front of this when we were watching pictures earlier, and then if you look at the left hand part of your screen, it looks like that's a pretty good bend to that wall, and it may lose its support there as well.
But there's not much left to burn, and as he was mentioning, it will use up this fuel, and that will be that. Here we get a good idea, this looks like -- and I'm just figuring that this is probably the case -- because we talked to a woman from Newhall school district, and she said the kids, the children, were going to be bused to another location for the parents to pick up. And earlier if you were watching while Natalie was talking to the person from the fire department, we got some good pictures to give us a good idea of the size of the neighborhood.
The camera person, you know, panned around and looked -- was able to give us an idea of the size of the neighborhood. We saw some tennis courts, and it looked like a school there, that they took some pictures for us as well. So it gave us a little bit better indication of what this neighborhood is like.
So that may or may not have been the children being moved, but if you look at the time, maybe they let them out a little bit earlier. But there were about 1,200 children, is what the person from the school district estimated. They were calling parents, parents were calling in, and the kindergartens through sixth graders were being moved to a different location from their school so that they could be picked up.
ALLEN: As you see now, the live pictures again of this house burning, the garage continues to start to burn. That patrol cars that are pretty close to this fire now, have not moved, from what we can tell. There goes a portion of the roof from the garage, so now you've smoke down on the driveway. And police cars there, you can see, very close to this home, which is burning this afternoon in Santa Clarita.
Anna Cuevas joins us again. Anything new to report from the press command center, Anna?
CUEVAS: As you mentioned, we saw some school buses come by, and we have with us Scott Butler, a deputy from the L.A. County sheriff's department. Where were the children being taken?
DEP. SCOTT BUTLER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The children are being evacuated from the local Stevenson Ranch Elementary School. They're gong to be transported to a location safe nearby.
CUEVAS: And that is where the parents can go pick them up? About how many children do you know are being bused?
BUTLER: At this point, we're not exactly sure of the amount of children, but it will be all the children from the local schools in the area.
CUEVAS: And the parents are told then to go pick up their children there. Where should they go afterwards?
BUTLER: At this point, we're going to be moving our command post to an area, we have some other logistic issues to be contending with, and we will be able to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that information in approximately 15, 20 minutes.
CUEVAS: Thank you. That was Scott Butler, deputy with the L.A. County sheriff's department. We have been told that we need to move to a different location, another press center that's a little bit closer to the house where they will be giving us updates on the operation and on the status of the fire. And basically, they just said that it's closer. We'd be able to see some smoke in the back, and that's as much as we can tell you so far -- Donna.
KELLEY: OK, Anna Cuevas, thanks very much. And as we continue to look at live pictures, we just saw a portion of the roof over the garage, it looked like, fall on top of that car that's in the driveway there. And that continues to burn, but now we're seeing a lot of black smoke, making it difficult to see. And as we watch that in there, you see the camera pan out again. And the fire department continuing to protect the two homes closest to the house that is burning. And Natalie was just talking to a spokesperson from the L.A. fire department, and he felt confident that the two homes closest were going to be safe, that they had put foam and water on those houses and that they felt that they were going to be successful in protecting them from the fire that's burning.
ALLEN: We continue on here. We've been going -- OK, now we're again showing you, this is the home, on the right side of your screen, where the tear gas, you can see lobbed, being lobbed into the home. At one point we saw the glass break from that back right window, and some blinds -- there we go, right there -- looked like some blinds that were hit. And it appeared that the fire, an we did hear from the fire department, that the fire did start in that room right there a short time later.
So this is on your right side of the screen, this is what this house looked like just a little over an hour ago. And on the left side, this is all that's left of this home now, with no word on what happened to the man inside, James Beck, 35 years old. Police were attempting to serve a warrant when gunfire broke out this morning.
KELLEY: And new information from Anna Cuevas, who's on the scene there -- Anna.
CUEVAS: Donna, we understand that a K-9 unit is on the way, and we have Lieutenant Carl Deeley from the L.A. County sheriff's department. Can you tell us about this K-9 unit?
LT. CARL DEELEY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I'm just aware that a K-9 unit is there, just on the off chance that we need him to locate the suspect, if he somehow managed to move in the neighborhood, or whatever. We're not saying that that's happened. We firmly believe he's in the house, and most likely, with the fire, would have perished, but we didn't know that for a fact.
CUEVAS: Could you be looking for a dead body at this point?
DEELEY: It's a possibility, but it's still too early to tell. The fire is still going. Most of the house has been destroyed at this point. While teargas was introduced to the house in preparation to try to force the suspect out, since we were unable to force him to come out or talk him into coming out -- but we do not believe that's what caused the fire. We firmly believe that it was self-introduced, by the suspect.
CUEVAS: Can you tell when was the last time that you had phone contact with Mr. Beck?
DEELEY: No, I'm not even sure that we've ever actually had contact with him.
CUEVAS: And also, when was the last time that there was any kind of gunfire exchanged between the suspect in the home and agents outside?
DEELEY: That was early this morning, after the initial confrontation.
CUEVAS: Did you know the deputy who was shot and killed?
DEELEY: Yes, I did. I knew him very well. I worked with him for several years at Santa Clarita Valley Station.
CUEVAS: Tell us how it works when the ATF goes in for an operation of this sort and they ask for your support.
DEELEY: Well, it's not unusual. Any time another agency, whether it be another police agency or the federal government, comes into a particular area that's policed by the sheriff's department, they usually give us a notification and ask for a uniform presence to be there, because we're familiar with the area, and also that we're aware of what's going on.
CUEVAS: Can you tell us a little bit more about the operation and the charges?
DEELEY: Unfortunately, that's all being handled by the federal government. All's I know is there was a federal firearms charge against him. I understand there's also other charges, but the one I'm aware of is the federal firearms charge.
CUEVAS: Are you aware of when the ATF will be releasing more information?
DEELEY: They're at the scene, at the command post. Their public information officers are up there. They're waiting, mainly, because now our department is now handling the homicide investigation, and they wanted to make sure they didn't put out anything that would endanger the S.W.A.T. operation. So once they know that the suspect's been secured and information that he might have been able to get over the radio or television wouldn't hamper that, then they'll be more likely to be able to give us information. They're holding back at our request right now.
CUEVAS: Who fired the teargas into the home?
DEELEY: That would be our S.W.A.T. team, the special enforcement bureau.
CUEVAS: And what was the result of that?
DEELEY: Well, the suspect did not come out, so it did not garner the outcome that we were looking for. And shortly afterwards, the fire in the house came about. And I just got back from the command post and from the people that had observed the scene. They believe that the fire was started by the suspect. They did not introduce hot gas -- the chances of starting a fire are very minimal.
CUEVAS: So at this point, you believe the suspect is still inside the house?
DEELEY: Yes, we do.
CUEVAS: Can you tell us a little bit more about the deputy who was killed?
DEELEY: Jake Kuredjian, 40 years old. His actual name is Haget (ph) Kuredjian, but everybody knew him as Jake. And 17 years with the department, the last several in Santa Clarita Valley station. He was living his dream. He always wanted to become a motor officer, and became one several months ago. Probably one of the most personable people you'll ever meet in your life. I think Jake has hundreds, if not thousands, of friends, everywhere in L.A. County and throughout the nation. He was an avid motorcyclist, took trips all over the country, very involved in the Armenian community. He's the kind of guy, first time you met him, you liked him.
CUEVAS: Do you know how he was shot? Was he shot inside the house or outside the house?
DEELEY: He was outside the house. He was helping ATF. Several units responded once the gunfire, came to assistance of ATF and the U.S. Marshals, and he was shot from the suspect from within the house.
CUEVAS: What about the homes that are surrounding Mr. Beck's house? The fire is raging, the home is pretty much burnt to the ground. What is the situation with those homes?
DEELEY: It appears that there's no damage from the fire, just from the little I know, and there may be some smoke damage. But it seems like they were able to introduce some water from a distance. The fire department, obviously, they couldn't get too close because of the danger to themselves from gunfire. But it looks like the suspect's house, the house that he was in was the one that was damaged.
CUEVAS: What's the guidance to neighbors who are still either in the house or have been evacuated?
DEELEY: Everyone in that neighborhood should have been evacuated. Anyone that's looking to come back in the neighborhood, they've still got quite a wait. All the children from the two elementary schools -- it's actually -- both the schools out here are -- excuse me. Stevenson Ranch Elementary school, but there are two campuses. All 1,500 children have been evacuated to Valencia Meadows School, and they will be there for pick-up. Anybody that has children in the junior highs or senior highs from the William S. Hart school district and they live in Stevenson Ranch, they're being held at the schools to be picked up there.
Most of Stevenson Ranch is open to people to come home, but there's quite an area surrounding this area where it still is a danger, because again, the suspect was using a high-powered rifle that won't be able to get to their homes.
CUEVAS: What are you waiting for before you guys can actually go into the house?
DEELEY: Well, there's a very minute chance that somehow the suspect got away into the neighborhood or something. We want to make sure that that hasn't happened. It doesn't appear likely, we firmly believe he was in the house. Most likely, because of the fire, he has perished. We don't know that for a fact. We don't know what kind of equipment he had set up, what he planned for. There's a possibility that he did survive the fire. We want to make sure and cover every angle before we let anybody else come in the neighborhood. And we want to make sure it's safe.
CUEVAS: One of the neighbors mentioned that some federal agents had been to their house and asked them questions regarding Mr. Beck. Were you aware that there was an ongoing investigation in this area?
DEELEY: No, I don't. All we know -- I know of is when they asked us for help with the search warrant. It's very possible that the station people knew that the investigation was going on -- our department -- but I'm not aware of that information.
CUEVAS: What is the plan of attack right now, then?
DEELEY: Right now it's to, once the fire has died down enough to make it safe, the SWAT Team will make sure that the suspect has either perished in the fire, is alive, that there are signs that he has been in the house and is in there, and then they'll go from there.
CUEVAS: How did this compare to other similar operations here in California that you've worked on?
DEELEY: Well, it's a friend of mine that's died, so it makes it very personal. You know, it's -- oftentimes you hear when people meet their fate in law enforcement it hurts us all. But this is somebody that I knew, and it's a friend of mine, so it's very personal. And most of the people from the station are here, whether they're on-duty or off-duty, he's already had -- the station is being inundated with phone calls from people that know and loved Jake. So it does -- it makes it very personal for us.
CUEVAS: If Mr. Beck is still alive, will there be charges regarding the death of...
DEELEY: There's (sic) already homicide investigators here. Our sheriff's department has already put this on as a homicide investigation.
CUEVAS: Wonderful. Thank you very much, Lieutenant Carl Deeley with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, giving us the latest information on Mr. Beck.
They believe that he's still inside the house, either dead or alive. They're not sure if he may have run out of the house, so they're still keeping the area secured. And they're waiting for word before they can actually go in. They've actually brought in a K-9 unit that they say is just there just in case he's managed to get out of the house somehow, with all that fire.
So that's as much as we know right now, and we will keep you posted on any additional information. Back to you.
KELLEY: All right, Hena Cuevas, thanks very much on the scene there of this fire in Santa Clarita, California -- Natalie.
ALLEN: While we watch this and wait for any other developments, we want to tell you about another story we have been following today and throughout this week here on CNN, and that is the status of the Little League pitcher Danny Almonte there, you can see, on the right part of your screen. Questions arose about how old he was -- whether he was 14, not 12 years old, putting him too old to lay in Little League.
They confirmed today from the Dominican, where he is from, that he is, indeed, 14 years old, and Stephen Keener, who is president and CEO of Little League baseball announced just a short time ago that Danny's team from New York will now have to forfeit all of its victories this year -- this Little League team from New York City, which was so proud of its accomplishments, especially that of Danny Almonte. But will, however, have to forfeit all of their victories from this season as a result of Danny being two years too old to play in the Little League.
And now back to our story we're watching unfold in California. The officials that our correspondent Hena Cuevas talked with did indicate they're bringing this K-9 unit in with just the slight possibility that the suspect somehow got out of his home. What they want to do is search to make sure that he was in this home. Which means of course, Donna, that this story could go on for a while if they're not 100 percent sure that the suspect was in the home.
KELLEY: And if you look at the live pictures there it's hard to tell if that's a tree or if that's a person down there on the -- if you look right in the down by the door to the left of the car -- that may just be a tree waving in the wind there. It almost looked like a person who might have been investigating to see what was going on. And there you see it flare up again in the garage.
And so as we continue to watch this, let's bring in our CNN consultant Michael Brooks. He is -- was a detective with the D.C. Metropolitan Police.
Mike, are you there?
MIKE BROOKS, CNN CONSULTANT: Yes, I'm here.
KELLEY: Hi, thanks.
Can you tell us what -- a little bit more -- let's talk about, a little bit more of what the standard procedure is when you get into a situation like this. We knew that the special weapons unit and the crisis negotiation team went in. What do they do? What's SOP here?
BROOKS: Well one of the first things, right after listening to this and hearing that ATF were the ones that actually were there serving the warrant. Since Waco the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has done a lot of training with their personnel on teaching them to deal with situations just like this.
What they would ideally do is to try to call the subject on the phone and call him out -- surround the house and then call the subject out. Whether this was done in this particular case, it's not known right now.
But in that case, and we know that two deputies were shot and one was killed, then you have a barricaded subject inside the house. You back off, set up negotiations. Many of the ATF agents are now trained as first responders in crisis negotiation, in hostage negotiation. So these kind of things would be going on right after the initial part. And you want to try to rescue the officers, make sure that they're brought out of the line of fire and, of course, get them medical help and then continue to try to negotiate or continue to contact the subject inside the house. KELLEY: And earlier Mike, the sheriff's department -- the L.A. County Sheriff's Department had said that they were willing to wait for a long period of time before going through other steps, as they put it. And they said that they were in communication with him on the phone.
BROOKS: Right. Well, that's not unusual. And nowadays departments, both local and federal, will go the extra mile. They will wait the subject out -- wait and wait, and continue to negotiate you know, as we've seen in a number of situations because, again, law enforcement don't want any more loss of life. That's the main thing that they're trying to do. They're there to save lives, they're not there to take lives.
And so if they can surround and negotiate, then the better.
KELLEY: And you mentioned tear gas, but this lieutenant with L.A. Count Sheriff's Department that we were just hearing said that he believe that the fire was self-introduced by the suspect. And we saw some earlier pictures -- we weren't sure it was tear gas earlier, but then we were able to confirm that it was tear gas. But they have no idea if that's what started the fire or not. But, as I say, the lieutenant here saying that it was self-introduced by a suspect.
If you'll just hang on for a quick minute if you can, Mike, we're going to take a quick break and we want to continue visiting with you.
Back in a minute.
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