Prince King, alleged ‘serial slingshot shooter’, aged 81, dies

AZUSA, California. — Neighbors of the 81-year-old man accused of being a “serial slingshot” who terrorized his neighborhood for a decade by shooting ball bearings through windows and windshields have expressed shock over upon his arrest, a day before his sudden death on Wednesday.

Prince King, who lived in Azusa, California, died of heart disease at a private residence, the Los Angeles County medical examiner announced on his website Thursday.

King’s neighbors in Azusa, a small town about 26 miles east of Los Angeles in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, were surprised that the old man they knew as “Wick” had been arrested.

“He’s always nice,” Veronica Jonasson, who lived next door to King, said in an interview with NBC News.

Jonasson said she worked from home and King frequently declared “break time!” » and come and chat. She said he would bring his dog treats and they never had any problems.

“Honestly, I’m surprised,” Jonasson said. “I never thought he would terrorize the neighborhood like this.”

An Azusa resident has ball bearings that she says have been knocked down in her home over the years.KNBC

Jonasson said she and her sister-in-law called the king “Gran Torino” because, like the character played by Clint Eastwood in the 2008 film, he had white hair, was widowed many years ago and lived alone.

King was arrested May 23, capping a lengthy quality-of-life investigation by Azusa police into a rash of vandalism on North Enid Avenue. No one was hurt, but police were held up for years.

“This has been going on for many years because we just haven’t identified who the suspect was,” said Azusa Police Lt. Jake Bushey said after King’s arrest, according to The Orange County Register.

A search of the king’s two-bedroom house led to the discovery of a slingshot and ball bearings, which resulted in the king’s arrest.

King was charged with seven counts of vandalism, including five counts of felony vandalism and two misdemeanor counts, according to court records. He was released, records show, from the Los Angeles County Jail without bail Tuesday and given a return court date of June 17.

Bushey said King did not choose his targets at random. But they still don’t know why he would have targeted his neighbors.

“We are not aware of any motive other than simple malicious mischief,” Bushey said.

In 2017, court records show King was taken to court by a woman to settle a property dispute following the death of his father. The woman and King were made co-owners and an agreement was reached where King paid the woman for her interest, records show. Neither the woman nor her attorney returned calls from NBC News for comment.

Jonasson said she didn’t remember ever seeing King with a slingshot, but she did see him once with a BB gun on his porch.

“One day I asked him, ‘What are you shooting at?’ He told me it was coyotes,” she said.

This is not a far-fetched explanation. Coyotes are not uncommon in Azusa, population about 50,000, which is nicknamed “The Canyon City” because of its location at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.

But after King’s arrest, his neighbors pored over the Azusa Police Department’s Instagram and Facebook posts and wondered if he was responsible for damaging their windshields and windows.

“Most of us didn’t believe it was him, even though they were arresting him,” said Chris, a neighbor who declined to give his last name.

“Even now, it’s still settling in,” he said. “We always say, ‘No, maybe it was something else.’ Most of us are good neighbors.

Still, Chris said his windows were ripped out and sometimes I heard what sounded like things being hit after he got home from work. He remembers seeing a camera on King’s garage that appeared to be pointing directly at his house.

Other neighbors said they frequently found BBs on the ground and in their driveways.

“A lot of times I would go out and find little BBs on the ground by my front door, so I’m very happy that the person was arrested,” resident Monica Palomino told NBC Los Angeles after the announcement. of the arrest.

Attempts to reach members of King’s family who could speak on his behalf were unsuccessful.

King was court ordered to stay 200 yards away from several locations in Azusa, including the 900 block of North Enid Avenue where he lived, according to court records.

King had been accused of breaking windows in six homes, as well as a car windshield and a garage window, according to a criminal complaint.

He pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations during a court appearance Tuesday, records show. His public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

A blue ribbon bearing the name of the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office closed the doors to his home Wednesday.

Before he died, someone had placed a sign in his yard saying, “Stay away, Wick!”

Chris said he couldn’t understand why King would target his neighbors.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “There was no clearly distinct moment or mood like he had for us.”

Phil Helsel reported from Azusa, California and Corky Siemaszko from New York.

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