It took deputies six minutes and 40 seconds to reach rampage killer Ali Syed's Ladera Ranch home after his mother called 911, officials said Monday.
That's about 90 seconds faster than recent average response times, but still too slow, said Lt. Jim Rudy, chief of police services for unincorporated south Orange County.
On Feb. 19, in a panic around 4:45 a.m., saying she heard gunshots in the house. It turned out to be Ladera Ranch's first homicide in at least three years, Rudy said, and the beginning of a brutal murder-suicide spree that left four dead and three wounded.
Rudy spoke to the Ladera Ranch Civic Council on Monday evening about crime statistics and emergency services.
He said the average response time for a priority-one call—meaning a serious emergency—was eight minutes and seven seconds in Ladera Ranch last year. In 2009, it was 7:03. In 2010, it averaged 9:09.
Rudy has set a goal of six minutes for the future.
By way of comparison, L.A. County sheriff's deputies take an average of five minutes and 48 seconds to respond to emergencies in unincorporated areas, according to cbsla.com.
In San Juan Capistrano, deputies got to the scene in four to five minutes for priority-one calls at the beginning of 2012, Sheriff's Dept. Lt. John Meyer said. That's partly because San Juan covers a smaller area, he said.
San Juan also has as many full-time deputies on patrol—19—as all of unincorporated South County, an area that stretches from Cook's Corner in the north to Ortega Highway in the south and includes Laguna Woods, Coto de Caza, Ladera Ranch and Wagon Wheel.
Another factor: Ladera Ranch's narrow streets make it difficult for deputies to speed to the rescue, Rudy said. During the day, pedestrians and cyclists force deputies to drive even slower through the community of 23,000.
"You can't go 60-70 mph down the roadway," Rudy said.
Considering such limitations, he was happy with deputies' response to the Syed shooting.
"I thought it was well-handled," Rudy said. "It was relatively quick. Deputies had control of the scene there."
By the time Rudy arrived, about five to seven deputies were on hand securing the area with yellow caution tape, he said. Some of the deputies came from neighboring Rancho Santa Margarita.
The Syeds apparently did not ask deputies for counseling services, said Administrative Sgt. Mike Wagner, who works with the Trauma Intervention Program, a volunteer program that counsels and assists residents after a traumatic emergency.
At Monday's Civic Council meeting, Ladera resident Abhijit Joshi said he was disappointed Rudy didn't spend more time discussing potential gun violence.
"People were talking about parking tickets," he said. "But, to me, [the Syed shooting] was the most significant thing that happened."
Joshi, who has two children, ages 7 and 5, asked if deputies had plans to address gun violence in schools.
Yes, Rudy said, explaining that the Sheriff's Department is "revisiting and renewing" its tactics.
But Joshi wanted more information, such as how many drills might take place, and who handles a crisis situation when it arises.
"I feel pretty safe, but I'd like to see the specifics," he said.