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NBCUniversal executive killed with military rifle at end of St. Patrick's Day party, police source says

March 25, 2011 | 11:49 am

Kap Authorities said an NBCUniversal executive was fatally shot by a military-style rifle at the end of a St. Patrick’s Day party held at the home of the man subsequently arrested in connection with the man’s death.

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, a longtime friend.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said “both of the men were in the garage with a rifle when one man shot and killed the other man. There are no other witnesses. The other man made a statement that was taken into consideration before it was determined to be a homicide.”

Detectives based their murder case on physical evidence and the statement, the deputy chief said. “It was definitely a shoulder-style rifle and a rifle round.”

Another law enforcement source said the shooting unfolded at a St Patrick Day’s party in the gated community of Porter Ranch. Armstrong has a large gun collection and convinced Kaplon to look at his weapons, said the source, who spoke on the condition that he not be named.

Armstrong was showing Kaplon an AR-15 rifle when a round from the weapon discharged into Kaplon’s chest, the source said. It was 12:45 a.m. Within half an hour Kaplon was declared dead.

Armstrong’s attorney, James Blatt, said the shooting was a tragic accident.

“We will be able to demonstrate that this was a tragic accident between two best friends. There will be no motive shown. There was absolutely no animosity or argument before this accidental shooting," he said. "There was no intent ever to harm his best friend. This was an accident based on two friends who were drinking and not following the proper safety precautions in the handling of the rifle."

The victim's father, Joe Kaplon, said in an interview that 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 had been detained by police after the shooting but was 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.


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Photo: Brian Russell Kaplon. Credit: KTLA