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EAST COUNTY RECORDS SIXTH HOMICIDE; TWO JAILED IN SLAYING OF MOORPARK MAN.

Byline: Douglas Clark / Daily News Staff Writer

Police have arrested two Simi Valley men suspected in the slaying early Wednesday morning of a Moorpark man who died from a single gunshot wound to the chest at the home of a female acquaintance.

Mark Robert McGuire, 31, was taken to Pleasant Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m.

Damien Armstrong, 19, and Spencer Arnold, 26, were arrested on suspicion of shooting McGuire about 12:30 a.m. in a rural area off Balcom Canyon Road surrounded by orange and avocado groves, said Sgt. Rod Mendoza, the Sheriff's Department's public information officer.

Armstrong, who drove from the scene in the victim's burgundy 1970s-model El Camino, was arrested about 5 a.m. by the California Highway Patrol after off-duty CHP Officer Ed Bushey spotted the car on Highway 101.

Using his cell phone, Bushey called CHP officers, who arrested Armstrong in Oxnard on Vineyard Avenue near The Esplanade shopping center.

Police said a juvenile who was found in the car with Armstrong was taken into custody, questioned and released. They said the youth was not at the crime scene and was not considered a suspect, but they refused to say why he was in the car.

Arnold was arrested Wednesday afternoon in the 3200 block of Copley Street in Simi Valley as he was leaving a relative's house. He had fled the shooting scene on foot through an orange grove that surrounded the house.

Police declined to say who might have fired the bullet that killed McGuire, nor do they know how the suspects arrived at the site of the shooting.

Police were called to the residence in the 8000 block of Posita Road, a secluded property rented by a woman whom they declined to name.

The call came from the home of the owner of the property, Robert Bean, who lives next door. According to police, the woman ran through an orange grove to Bean's home after the shooting because she had no phone.

Bean said Tuesday night had been quiet until the woman came to his door seeking help.

``I was just going to bed, and then she was banging on the door,'' he said. ``You don't realize how close you are to this stuff until it hits you. We can't get away from it, I guess.''

Mendoza said police don't know whether the woman, who is not considered a suspect, actually witnessed the shooting or simply heard it. They also don't know what relationship she had to McGuire, but she apparently knew the suspects through him.

Mendoza said police records show officers were called to the house six times in the past two years. He refused to say what the nature of those calls might have been or who made them.

Wednesday morning, detectives from the Ventura County major crime division and 26 sheriff's deputies searched the one-story home for evidence. Though the handgun used in the shooting was found on the property, police declined to say where.

About 8 a.m. a grid search of the area was conducted by 16 members of the Thousand Oaks Disaster Assistance Response Team. They found fresh footprints and some money in the orange grove that fronts the house.

A neighbor, who asked that her name not be used, said she and her husband have been ``watchful'' of the rental home because vehicles have been seen there at all hours of the night.

``They drive by and slow down by each driveway because they're trying to find it. You definitely notice it because it can be at 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning,'' said the neighbor, who farms 80 acres of orange orchards on the south side of Posita Road.

The types and conditions of the vehicles visiting the home ranged from old and dilapidated to expensive late models.

The woman also noted that in past months people visiting the house where the homicide occurred would wander in the orchards, sometimes trespassing on her property. Three men who did not fit the description of the murder suspects did just that Tuesday, she said, and her husband asked them to leave.

Sitting on the shaded porch of her home, she said that while the area is remote, it is also ``very safe'' and friendly.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 14, 1997
Words:717
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