ENCINITAS — At first glance, the tree-lined community of townhouses on Shadytree Lane with their carefully manicured browning landscapes appear to be returning to normal following the harrowing events of March 27, when a Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a longtime resident of the community who was armed with a shotgun and reportedly suicidal.
The yellow crime scene tape that partitioned the Village Park neighborhood is gone. So are the army of shirt-and-tie wearing investigators who scoured the street in search for witnesses.
The lone visible remnant of the events is a small makeshift memorial of flowers, handwritten notes and stuffed animals on the spot where the shooting occurred, about 100 feet in front of the man’s home.
But things might never be the same, residents said. The silence that was their suburbia has been shattered.
Some neighbors refused to speak to reporters, quickly shutting their doors when asked if they would recount details of the fateful morning’s events.
Others sighed as they were asked if they recalled if anything like this had ever occurred in their community.
“I’ve lived here nearly 40 years, and nothing has come close to this,” said Janice Walentine, who lives on the opposite side of the fourplex where the shooting occurred. “We are all shocked.”
San Diego Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the shooting in Village Park in which a deputy fatally shot 56-year-old Gary Kendrick, a county health inspector who loved surfing and animals – frogs in particular – whose marriage reportedly had soured in the days preceding the shooting.
Sheriff’s officials on Monday released Kendrick’s identity as well as the name of the deputy who fired the fatal shot – Steven Block, who has served on the department for three years.
Block has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is customary in officer-involved-shooting investigations.
Several days after the incident, sheriff’s officials have released further details about the Friday morning incident, which occurred shortly around 9:30 a.m. in front of a town home on Shadytree Lane, a tree-lined cul-de-sac, Sheriff’s Lt. John Maryon said.
Two deputies responded to an incomplete 9-1-1 call from the residence, and when they arrived, the wife of the shooting victim was outside the home and told deputies that her husband was still inside, armed with a shotgun and suicidal, Maryon said.
When deputies arrived, they found Kendrick sitting outside in a grassy area near the home, pointing a shotgun at himself, repeatedly asking the deputies to shoot him. Kendrick then pointed the shotgun in the direction of one of the deputies, prompting Block to shoot him with his department issued AR-15 rifle.
Kendrick, who dropped to the ground after the first shot, again pointed his gun in the direction of Block, who fired his weapon three more times, downing Kendrick once more.
Deputies attempted to perform life-saving measures, but Kendrick died in front of the home, Maryon said.
“The deputy felt his life was in danger, and when your life is in danger, you are going to go home to your family,” Maryon said on Friday.
This was not the Kendrick that neighbors said they knew.
The health inspector was a frog enthusiast who helped in several frog-counting efforts in Encinitas and Del Mar. He was among those featured in a U-T San Diego article in 2004 for his volunteer work with Frogwatch USA.
“I loved it because he had a pool of frogs and they would croak and they would sound like crickets,” Walentine said Tuesday, who said her interactions with Kendrick were always pleasant.
“We have a neighbor who owns a white van, and we would always call him ‘the ice cream truck guy,'” Walentine said.
Like many neighbors in the older community, Walentine was home when the events unfolded, but she said she must have slept through them.
“The only time I realized something was going on was when I woke up to get my newspaper and I went outside, and there was yellow crime-scene tape everywhere,” she said.
The neighbor immediately adjacent to Kendrick’s home refused to speak to The Coast News, as did a neighbor whose home is immediately behind the Kendrick’s unit.
Several neighbors said Friday that the couple had been experiencing marital problems in recent days, including an incident in which the man was throwing the woman’s belongings out of a window.
Deputies had been at the house the week of the shooting after a reported domestic disturbance, Maryon said.
Neighbors said up until the recent issues, the man and his wife appeared to be a happy couple and had done lots of traveling together.
“He was a great guy, he loved animals and he loved his dogs,” said one neighbor, Jerry Whiting, who identified the man as “Gary” in an interview with reporters. “He and I got along really well. I didn’t expect this to happen. I just don’t understand how this could happen.”
Whiting said that the man owned several guns, which Maryon confirmed.
Mark Allyn, who sits on the homeowners association board for the community and lives a block north of the incident, said he heard what sounded like four gunshots at around 9:30 a.m.
Allyn said he and his wife walked over to the street and saw emergency medical personnel performing what appeared to be life-saving measures on the man. Shortly thereafter, Allyn said, medical personnel pulled a tarp over the body.
“He looked dead,” Allyn said.
Another neighbor reported seeing a woman collapse in distress outside of the home shortly thereafter the shooting.
The incident shocked neighbors in the community, many who have lived there since the 1980s and said they could not recall anything like this occurring in the community, which is known for its green belts and parks that are often filled with neighborhood children, who attend nearby Park Dale Lane Elementary and Digueno Middle schools.
“You’ll see Jazzercise classes and kids playing soccer, not crime-scene tape,” said Cynthia Griffin, who has lived in Village Park since 1987.
Allyn echoed Griffin’s sentiments.
“This is a really peaceful, family-friendly neighborhood,” Allyn said. “I’m just glad this happened without any children around.”