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NBC executive's shooting reclassified from accident to homicide by LAPD, victim's father says

Kaplon The father of an NBCUniversal executive fatally shot last week said police had initially told the family the shooting was an accident.

But a few days later, detectives returned to say they believe it was homicide -- but would not provide details or a possible motive.

Brian Russell Kaplon, a married father of two, died March 18 from a gunshot wound to the chest at the home of David Andrew Armstrong.

The victim's father, Joe Kaplon, said Armstrong had several guns in his house, including rifles.

“Because of one of those guns I had to bury my son yesterday,” Joe Kaplon said in an interview with The Times on Thursday.

Records show that Armstrong was detained by police after the shooting but released. But on Thursday, he was arrested. Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said Kaplon's death was determined to be a homicide.

The shooting occurred at Armstrong's home in the 20000 block of Vercelli Way at 12:45 a.m. Kaplon was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later.

Armstrong, 32, was charged Thursday with murder in connection with Kaplon's death, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Armstrong was twice able to raise bail, first when it was set at $1 million. He then came up with $2 million in bail after he was re-arrested.

Kaplon, a finance executive at NBCUniversal, was described by friends and co-workers as affable and creative.


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-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

Photo: Brian Russell Kaplon. Credit: KTLA

Comments () | Archives (22)

“Because of one of those guns I had to bury my son yesterday,” Joe Kaplon said in an interview with The Times on Thursday.

Mr Kaplon, I'm sorry for your son's death. However, your son's death was caused by another human, not the gun.

Russ: You're wrong, and inconsiderate to say anything regarding your political viewpoint in response to a quote attributed to a grieving father.

Russ is correct. The gun did not kill anyone. The person that pulled the trigger did. That is why we prosecute people, and not guns.

Right, the gun had nothing to do with it. Certainly you must be joking.

Russ, you couldn't be more right. I was hit by a drunk driver once. I never said it was the car's fault.

Dont try to get all philosophical on us Russ. If he didn't have the gun then this father of 2 would still be with us. They both played a part, the gun isn't innocent by no means in how you describe.

GE Executive = murderer
gun= prop

A person may have pulled the trigger but guns make it A LOT easier. If guns were more difficult to obtain there would be far fewer shooting deaths.

Russ, how dare you defend the guns in this case. you are obviously not a friend of the family, otherwise I think you would see this in a different light. You have no idea the pain and hurt that the family is feeling right now.

How dare you sir.

I was hit by a toyota camry and I did blame the car

Clearly you are all pro guns. and that is fine and all. But this not the time nor the place to debate this. This family just lost a loved one. I know them personally, and to see this debate going on as to who or what killed our friend, is a joke. Take your debate elsewhere.

The gun didn't shoot Mr. Kaplon, Mr. Armstrong did. I feel horrible for the Armstrong family, but guns don't shoot people all by their lonesome. The story is a bit incomplete. But that's what unfortunately happens with journalists in rush top get out a story nowadays. Did Mr. Armstrong shoot Mr. Kaplon during an argument? Or was the shooting due to the negligence of Mr. Armstrong's handling of the weapon? A little more due diligence would have been nice, in a story as heart wrenching as a father loosing his life.

Most likely, Armstrong stupidly left a bullet in the chamber of this antique gun, supposedly an AK-47. Then, even more stupidly, he pointed it at Kaplon and pulled the trigger, thinking it was unloaded. The two were friends, and it seems unlikely that the killing was intentional, although who knows...? In any case, a minimum charge of negligent homicide seems in order. The Coroner's determination of "homicide" would just be a determination that it wasn't a suicide.

Thank you Jeff for speaking up. I too know this family personally, and this is not the place to have this debate. Please don't use this tragedy as an excuse to argue personal ideology.

Jeff, you are so correct. This family is suffering terribly and I am amazed by the lack of compassion shown in these comments. I am so sorry for the loss of their precious son, father, and husband. May he rest in peace.

Hopefully the father was just reacting to the news of his son's death, but in reality, if the "suspect" was angry enough to kill someone, he could have used knives, a vehicle, any heavy, solid obeject or his bare hands.

The indication that it was the fault of the gun goes beyond the reality of this situation....and why did the man kill his son, anyway? I see nothing in this article to indicate the reason why he was angry enough to want him dead?

It gets curiouser and curiouser.....

MidWest Reader - please get your facts straight. the father did not kill his son. you must have mis-read the article. His best friend shot him.

People please know your facts, understand the story before posting and talking about this. This tragedy is very sad and could of been prevented.

there is still no motive as to why the friend killed Brian, or if indded it was accidental, and the gun went off accidentally. Investigations are still ongoing.

The fact of the matter is that we all lost a great friend, son, father and husband, and he will be forever missed. And this horrific incident could have been prevented had there been proper guidance and useage of a weapon.

And no Al - it was not an AK-47 - again starting rumors that are untrue.

MidWest Reader, There are other articles that say more about the details. The shooter and the victim were friends. The shooter had a collection of antique guns including fully automatic rifles (I think the weapon was an ak47). He was "playing around" with the gun and shot the victim accidentally. The negligence and recklesness of the shooter are likely what caused the police to change the cause of death from accidental to homicide. Mr. Kaplon is 100% correct; if there weren't any guns in that house, his son would would not have gotten killed.

To the argument that cars don't kill people, there's an important distinction in the nature of the two: cars are designed for transportation, their intended use is to transport people, a gun is designed to kill, its intended use is to hurt or kill.

I think this is exactly the time for discussion. I sympathize wholeheartedly with those grieving this poor young man's death. This is when we should ask, what can be done to make sure this doesn't happen to another family? Does the having the ability to hunt or target shoot, and the option to own something that may one day protect you and your loved ones, or in this case own an antique gun for show, outweigh the risks of those guns when we know that accidents like this happen, and it gives those who would use weapons to willfully inflict harm the ability to do so more efficiently than any other weapon. Is there any level of compromise that allows for weapon use in an acceptable way, but limits the potential dangers when those weapons are in dangerous hands, be it a murderer, a child, an intoxicated person etc. thus reducing the number of people killed? I don't necessarily have answers, but I think it is very important to discuss as a community, or as a society, and unfortunately a tradgedy can remind us of this importance and begin a discussion before it becomes a distant issue that doesn't seem as important or immediately relevant.

Guns don't kill people, people with mustaches kill people.

If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will accidentally kill their childhood friends.

If this is an intentional homicide, that's another matter, but if this is a negligent homicide, what it comes down to is that an irresponsible gun owner with a bit of an obsession — to the point that he dragged his unwilling friend over to see his collection — killed someone with this deadly weapon.

Now I guess people like Russ worry that comments like that of the victim's father can be used to take away everyone's guns. And while I don't support that (we do have a Second Amendment), people like Russ need to recognize that the gun helps the person with the gun to kill someone, accidentally or on purpose.

I mean, come on, it's not like the guy brought his friend down to see his Star Wars paraphernalia collection and he accidentally choked on Jar Jar Binks. (No, I'm not trying to make light of this; I'm trying to make a point that it is the very ease with which guns become so deadly so fast that make them such a liability.)

Maybe a bit more mandatory firearms training or licensing is in order. Let's amend your claim: Guns don't kill people*. Stupid and/or inebriated and/or violent people with guns kill people. Maybe we should do a tad more to prevent THAT.

* The "guns don't kill people; people kill people" is a really silly mantra. In addition to being wrong (the mechanical movement of the gun was necessary for the death to occur), it also works both ways: If guns don't kill people, then people in need of self-defense don't need guns, right?

Please, fellow Second Amendment enthusiasts, recognize that there are legitimate concerns about who has guns and how many.

For a murder conviction there has to be intent. Recklesness or negligence is not enough wicked_care. I think the cops no more than they are releasing right now. I am so grateful to live in Canada - we have adequate gun laws that stop things like this from happening. In my Country it is very difficult to obtain a license to have a pistol or assault rifle and as a result we have 1/5th the homicides per capita that you have. Another contributing factor I believe is that you have many more poor people than we have and we have a much stronger social safety net than you. No one goes without medical care in Canada and no one has to live on the streets unless they want to. In your Country, 95% of your wealth is controlled by 5% of your population - that wouldn't go over very well up here or any other civilized country. Sorry if I'm insulting anyone.

Cheers Kevin in Vancouver


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