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Victim in Wal-Mart baseball bat killing identified

Wal-Mart baseball bat killing
A 74-year-old man beaten to death by a transient with a bat inside a Wal-Mart store was identified Thursday as David Oakleaf of Lakewood.

He was killed in the sporting goods section of the Lakewood store Tuesday afternoon when he sustained  repeated blows to the head in what witnesses described to police as a vicious, methodical attack.

Suspect Richard Lawrence Kalfin, 47, was detained at the scene and booked on suspicion of murder.

He was being held in lieu of $1 million bail and was due in court Thursday morning in Bellflower.

Kalfin is believed to be a local transient who frequented the shopping center where the Wal-Mart is located.

Sheriff's officials said they were working with local law enforcement and Wal-Mart security officials to determine if they had previous contact with Kalfin.

The store's security video shows him in the store wandering the aisles for a short time before Oakleaf entered, said Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

At some point, Kalfin ended up in the sporting goods section. He removed a baseball bat from a display rack and began walking the nearby aisles, stopping only when he spotted Oakleaf.

Witnesses told authorities Kalfin began swinging the bat swiftly and furiously at the customer's head. It appeared to be a classic case of the victim being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Hernandez said.

There was no evidence the two men had prior contact -- inside or immediately outside the Wal-Mart -- although Hernandez stressed the investigation was still in its early stages.

The store in the 2700 block of East Carson Street is usually open 24 hours. It was closed overnight and reopened about 10:30 Wednesday morning.

In a statement, Wal-Mart expressed its "deepest condolences" to the victim's family.

"We are working closely with law enforcement to offer what information we have such as surveillance video that might help with the investigation," the company said.

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Witness to Wal-Mart baseball bat killing: 'It was awful, so awful'

-- Ruben Vives and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Site of Wal-Mart baseball bat killing. Credit: KTLA-TV

 
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