SAN BERNARDINO - A man was shot and killed when he tried to protect his wife from an armed robber, one of two killings that occurred in San Bernardino in about four hours Monday night.

Leon Gregory McLaughlin, 38, died at Loma Linda University Medical Center at 8:58 p.m., San Bernardino County coroner's officials said.

McLaughlin and his wife had just returned home to the Sycamore Ridge Apartments in the 2000 block of Guthrie Street at 7:36 p.m. after running errands and getting food from Kentucky Fried Chicken.

A man approached McLaughlin in the parking lot and began to talk to him, police said.

When his wife caught up to McLaughlin, the robber side-stepped and demanded money from her, said San Bernardino police Lt.

The trash bin area at an apartment complex along the 2000 block of North Guthrie Street in San Bernardino where a man was killed.
The trash bin area at an apartment complex along the 2000 block of North Guthrie Street in San Bernardino where a man was killed. (Gabriel Luis Acosta/Staff Photographer)
Paul Williams.

"The victim stepped in between the two of them and that's when the suspect produced the weapon and fired a round," Williams said.

Paramedics took McLaughlin to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

It was not clear if the robber actually obtained any money or valuables during the hold up.

It was an incident that shook residents, who said the complex had been quieter the last few years than it was about a decade ago.

"Just the fact that people can come up and shoot rounds and not care, it's scary," said Angela Smith, who has lived at the complex about two years.

Smith heard two gunshots, as did other residents. She stayed inside her apartment after the incident occurred out of concern for her safety.

Jeff Taylor, another resident, said he often saw McLaughlin leaving and returning from playing basketball at the complex.

"He was a good dude. He didn't mess with anybody," Taylor said. "I can't see how something like that could happen to him."

Taylor said McLaughlin and his wife had lived at Sycamore Ridge only about six months.

He stepped outside after the shots were fired to find McLaughlin's wife trying to comfort her husband.

San Bernardino homicides
(Since 2000*)


* = This year's number is to date

Sources: San Bernardino Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, staff reports

"She was crying, trying to tell him everything was going to be all right," he said.

San Bernardino police received another call at 11:27 p.m. about a body inside a vacant home in the 1200 block of North Mountain View Avenue.

The victim, Robert Forrest Dearmin Jr., 27, of San Bernardino, was found dead of multiple stab wounds. Police found no other people at the scene when they arrived.

It is unknown what the victim was doing at the home, but police said the residence is often occupied by transients.

The neighborhood is a mix of businesses and older homes, many surrounded by chain link fences and wrought iron.

The front door of the home where the victim was found was chained and padlocked. Code enforcement had posted a hazardous conditions violation notice on the front of the residence.

An asphalt lot in back had a pile of blankets sitting next to garbage bins, and another pile of rubble behind it.

Armando Sasso, who lives several doors up from the home, said he moved to the neighborhood from Rialto in search of cheaper rent. He knew the neighborhood had crime issues, but stepping outside to see the neighborhood surrounded by police and yellow tape still caught him off guard.

"I just saw the cops out there. It was a surprise to me," he said.

McLaughlin and the unidentified victim are the 44th and 45th people killed in the city this year.

Anyone with information on the Mountain View incident may call Detective Marco Granado, 909-384-5628, or Sgt. Gary Robertson, 909-841-5361. To provide information on the McLaughlin homicide, call Detective Bill Flesher, 909-384-5655 or Robertson.


Reach Melissa via email or call her at 909-386-3878.

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