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Home / peace officer

Trial begins for man accused of violent rampage in Fullerton, Buena Park

A 36-year-old man went on a rampage, attacking four people in two Orange County cities, including a Fullerton police officer, over one morning, a prosecutor told jurors Monday, while the defendant’s attorney said his client sufferers from a mental health disorder.

Kenneth Alexander Heimlich is charged with one count of attempted murder, two counts of robbery and three counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury — all felonies — as well as with a misdemeanor count of battery on a peace officer.

In addition, he faces sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury, leaving a victim comatose or paralyzed and inflicting great bodily injury on another victim.

Heimlich is also awaiting trial in a separate case alleging he failed to stop at a hit-and-run accident with injury.

“The defendant is charged with victimizing four people in two cities on one day,” Deputy District Attorney Austin Young said.

Heimlich rode a bus with the first alleged victim, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, at about 7:40 a.m. on June 12, 2019, according to Young. They both got off at 8:08 a.m. “without incident” in Buena Park as Fitzgerald retrieved his bike from the front of the bus rack, Young said.

The two were standing along the curb at a bus stop at Beach Boulevard and Orangethorpe Avenue when Heimlich shoved the then-65-year-old Fitzgerald into traffic, Young said. The prosecutor showed jurors dash-cam video from an approaching bus that showed the defendant attack Fitzgerald.

“As Mr. Fitzgerald was minding his own business, the defendant got up from the bus bench, pushed him into oncoming traffic, kicked him in the head and violently stomped on his skull” five times, Young said.

Heimlich picked up the victim’s bike and rode away from the scene as others helped the victim out of the road and onto the sidewalk, the video shows.

Fitzgerald was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically induced coma for a few days, Young said.

Fitzgerald has sustained injuries to his brain that affect the way he talks and thinks and leaves him reliant on a cane to walk for assistance, Young said.

About five miles away, two hours later, Fullerton police were dispatched to a bus depot at 123 S. Pomona Ave.

Heimlich is accused of attacking then-56-year-old Vincent Valenzuela and taking his wallet, Young said. When then-17-year-old Dominic Jebrail attempted to intercede on behalf of Valenzuela, Heimlich punched the teen in the mouth twice, Young said.

Valenzuela was hospitalized for his wounds, Young said.

After Officer Davis Crabtree arrested Heimlich at the scene, the defendant took off his shoes and whipped them at the officer, striking him in the right thigh and left shoulder, Young said.

Heimlich’s attorney, Tom Nocella of the Alternate Defender’s Office, did not dispute the attacks happened but said his client has been diagnosed with schizoaffective and bipolar disorders and the defendant could not have formed any intent to kill Fitzgerald.

“He didn’t get up with any intent that day to attack anyone,” Nocella said. “The evidence is not going to show any intent to kill.”

Dr. Ryan Jordan will be the defense’s expert witness on Heimlich’s mental health disorders, Nocella said.

“He’s dealt with these issues his entire life,” Nocella said.

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