‘Trespassing issue’ triggers shooting

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In an incident that seemingly escalated from an argument between neighbors to a shooting in a quiet Malibu canyon enclave, one man was left with a gunshot wound to the chest last week before calling 911, leading to the arrest of his neighbor. 

Patrick Leach, 27, was arrested for attempted murder for allegedly shooting his neighbor, 49-year-old Eric Shanks, during a dispute characterized as a “trespassing issue,” according to Det. Tom Lewis, the investigating officer on the case. After being detained at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff ’s Station, Leach posted $1 million bail and left the jail on the day of the incident. 

Wednesday morning last week, emergency medical technicians responding to a 911 call found a 49-year-old man with nonlife-threatening injuries to his chest sitting in his driveway in the 27000 block of West Winding Way. The suspected assailant, a neighbor, was seen leaving the property in a black SUV and was apprehended shortly thereafter near Kanan and Cornell roads in Agoura Hills. 

Lt. Matthew Squire of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff ’s Station said Leach was arrested without incident. 

“Our deputies did a fantastic job apprehending this dangerous suspect,” Squire said. “There was no vehicular pursuit and the suspect exhibited no threatening behavior while being taken into custody.” 

Evidence was later seized from the vehicle owned by Leach, who was released from the Lost Hills Station later in the day on $1 million bail, an amount that had been increased from $500,000, Squire said. 

Squire was unable to say whether Leach had returned to his home after posting bail. 

“Look, he comes from big money, so he was able to post that kind of bail the same day he was arrested,” Squire said. “But once he leaves the station, it’s out of our hands.” 

Leach faces a Feb. 7 arraignment at the Van Nuys Courthouse, said Det. Tom Lewis, the investigating officer on the case. Charges will be finalized when Lewis completes his investigation. 

The Sheriff ’s Department at first refused to divulge the name of the victim or say who placed the 911 call, although Squire did say the victim’s mother was at the home at the time of the incident. City News Service reported that the victim was breathing and conscious, with a bullet entry and exit wound to the shoulder, when police arrived. 

Lewis later confirmed that the victim was Eric Shanks, who lived next door to Leach. Lewis said that Shanks himself placed the 911 call, and that the sheriff’s department had not previously been called to either of the properties. Leach did not have an arrest record, Lewis added. Lewis characterized the dispute between the two men as a “trespassing issue.” 

West Winding Way is a street lined with luxury properties locked behind tall, electronically controlled gates with intercoms. Pedestrians are generally non-existent, save for the occasional resident walking his dog or a landscaping worker on the job. Residents who do live in the area were loathe to speak to reporters or claimed they knew nothing of the incident, including the identity of the victim. 

When approached at Leach’s address for information, one man from a group assembled on the property driveway told a reporter, “We got one big ‘No comment.’” 

One neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that his gardener had heard “a verbal altercation” Wednesday morning before hearing shots fired. 

“I think it was just a brewing dispute thing that got out of hand,” the neighbor said. “I don’t want to say too much more because, well, he did shoot someone. It’s unusual. This is Malibu, but you never know. You do read about mass shootings these days.” 

The neighbor did say that the victim’s mother had been one of the first residents on Winding Way and had lived there for at least 40 years. 

Another neighbor, who would only give his first name as “Greg,” said he had lived in the area for a number of years, but had never met either Leach or Shanks. 

“This is kind of a quiet, locked-away community,” Greg said. “Kids don’t even come here for Halloween.” 

Jonathan Kaye, president of the Winding Way-Murphy Way Homeowners Association, said he was unable to find out much information himself about the incident or people involved. 

“It’s like everyone is being very coy releasing any information,” Kaye said. 

Shanks, who purportedly was transported to UCLA Medical Center, is expected to survive. 

“He’s one very lucky guy,” Squire said. “It looks like he’ll be OK. He’s a blessed man.”