An 81-year-old man is accused of terrorizing his Azusa neighbors

The elderly man Azusa neighbors knew as “Wick” seemed like a busybody to some residents, but to others he acted like a watchdog, taking note of every suspicious behavior on his street and keeping neighbors informed.

That's why it came as a surprise to many residents of this working-class neighborhood when Azusa police and SWAT officers blocked streets near North Enid Avenue and Crescent Drive and arrested 81-year-old Prince King.

For about 10 years, police said in a statement, King terrorized the neighborhood by shooting metal balls from a slingshot, breaking home windows, car windshields and nearly hitting neighbors themselves. In his house, investigators say, they found ball bearings and a slingshot.

“I never thought I could be doing that,” said Neomi Reynoso, a 46-year-old neighbor.

The neighborhood was plagued for years by metal ball bearings that flew and broke windows and hit the walls of homes, he said. Neighbors didn't know who was shooting at the bearings or for what reason, Reynosa said.

King was charged last week with seven counts of vandalism. He pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday.

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons, said a ball bearing crashed through two windows in his neighborhood about nine years ago. He didn't think much of it then, until he heard about similar incidents in the same area.

King didn't leave his house much, the neighbor said, except to mow the lawn or wash the car. Still, the man they knew as “Wick” greeted neighbors and seemed friendly. One time, he said, King saw him changing a flat tire on his car and offered to lend him his jack.

Neighbors said they didn't know how King got his nickname “Wick,” but it was the name some of them knew him by since they moved to the neighborhood.

If King was behind the vandalism, the neighbor said, he's not sure why he would do it.

“We never had an argument or anything like that,” he said. “I still can't believe someone 80 years old would do this.”

About three weeks ago, a piece of the front door panel broke, the neighbor said. At first he thought it was old wood, but then he found a ball bearing on the ground.

On another occasion, he said, he was outside his door smoking a cigarette when he heard something rush past his head. She put out her cigarette and went inside.

King, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, also seemed knowledgeable about the comings and goings on the block. When a strange car parked on the block, the neighbor said, King would share details about the car.

Once, Reynoso said, King approached her and told her that someone late at night had tried to steal gas from her car.

“He knew everything, a lot of things that were happening on the block,” she said.

He seemed like a busybody at times, he said, but many residents thought he was taking care of the neighborhood.

She was attacked by a ball bearing about eight or nine years ago, she said, but she has no idea why.

King sometimes had disagreements with neighbors, he said. He didn't like people parking on his side of the street, he said, and sometimes blocked it with their cars or trash cans to prevent others from parking there. But nothing seemed to escalate.

Neither King nor his defense attorney could be reached for comment.

During King's court hearing Tuesday, a judge released him on his own recognizance, but he was ordered to stay at least 200 yards from the homes of the identified victims.

The next morning, another neighbor went to King's house and posted a sign and message in his front yard that appeared to be directed at him: “Stay away, Wick.”

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