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Cupertino shooting: Neighbor awakes to sound of gunfire

October 6, 2011 | 10:06 am

Police search a Cupertino neighborhood Wednesday.

Helen Bernaciak awoke in her Sunnyvale home Thursday to the sound of gunfire and later watched officers slowly wheel a shrouded body -- believed to be that of suspected Cupertino gunman Shareef Allman -- to an ambulance.

“I was in bed, sleeping. It’s the shots that woke me up,” said Bernaciak, 75, a retiree who lives two houses from where the man was killed. “I’d never heard that sound before. All I know it was a horrible, horrible sound -- horrible.”

Later, she said, she spoke with three police officers, all of whom told her the man was dead.

Photos: Shooting at California quarry

“They didn’t drive in with their paramedic car," Bernaciak said by phone. "They wheeled him down the street all the way to Peacock [Avenue], eight or nine houses away.”

The shooting ended 24 hours of intense police activity along Lorne Way, a four-block street known more for well-groomed lawns, young children and a suburban Silicon Valley lifestyle.

That quiet was disrupted after a man believed to be Allman was spotted Wednesday morning leaving his brown Mercury Cougar at a gas station at Homestead and Wolfe roads a couple of blocks away.

For the rest of the day, nothing was the same on Lorne Way.

“Helicopters woke me up yesterday,” Bernaciak said. “They searched our yards and they had the SWAT team up and down all day long, and guns -– oh gosh, everybody had a gun.

"We weren’t allowed to leave or come in," she said. "They kept everybody in. If you went out, they told you to go in. The kids all stayed home from school.”

Bernaciak watched as a bloodhound sniffed the street and seemed to respond to something at a house across from hers.

Come nightfall, all the activity gave Bernaciak confidence Allman could not be in the area.

“I wasn’t a bit worried,” she said. “I thought he’s so far gone from here or I never would have been able to sleep last night. I went to bed feeling fine.”

Bernaciak said she now wonders where Allman could have been hiding as she and her neighbors slept through the night.

“I’d like to know all that -- I guess I will, eventually,” she said.


Friends of suspect express disbelief

Shooting suspect's strange behavior detailed

Man fitting description of Cupertino gunman killed by deputies

 -- Sam Quinones


Photo: Police search a Cupertino neighborhood Wednesday. Paul Sakuma / Associated Press