A stranger knocked on a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy's door and asked a question early Thursday morning before opening fire on the 75 year old through the window of his Redondo Beach home.
The victim was hospitalized with gunshot wounds to his chest and wrist. The gunman ran away and has not been identified.
Police don't know what motivated the attack, but say it's possible it was a case of mistaken identity, said Lt. Shawn Freeman of the Redondo Beach Police Department.
Friends and American Legion colleagues identified the wounded man as C. Matthew "Matt" Turner, who served in the U.S. Navy before the he joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, retiring in 1978. He later worked as a private investigator, and in retirement has been active with American Legion youth programs, according to post members.
Investigators believe the gunman knocked on the door of the victim's second floor apartment on Avenue G just west of Prospect Avenue shortly before 12:30 a.m. Thursday, and asked for an individual who does not live there, according to Freeman. The victim looked through the window next to the door, and the gunman fired three times through the closed window and door.
Turner is expected to recover from his injuries, policed said.
Those who know Turner described him as a "great guy" and a "natural leader," known at the American Legion for his work with junior ROTC programs and helping South Bay high school students participate in the Boys State government training program.
Post members are "very proud of him," said Adjutant Larry Futrell.
Top news of the day
That someone would shoot through his door, they found incomprehensible.
"None of this makes sense. It's completely unsettling," said neighbor Susan Margolese.
"It has to be somebody — some mistake," said Jude Goetsch, who works at the American Legion Post 184 in Redondo Beach. "He's the nicest guy in the world."
Investigators combed the neighborhood, looking in dumpsters, for the weapon used and clues to the gunman.
Police also deployed a drone.
Police believe the shooter disappeared down toward Prospect Avenue, and may have crossed it and gone through the church property on the other side. Police were checking the church's security camera video.
Police described the shooter as a light-skinned and standing about 5-foot-5. A neighbor said the man she saw running away was wearing a two-toned windbreaker, dark over light.