Im Armed N Dangerous with a Scope Come Get Me
In Oct. 2011 a Mountain Lakes (NY) man dialed 911 to report he had just killed a co-worker. Leonardo Parera explained he was now sitting in a car and armed. He fired on arriving police and was killed by returning gunfire.
Transcript of the call in pdf at bottom of page
Leonardo Parera wasn’t himself when he entered the Mountain Lakes real estate office for the last time.
The normally friendly and affable real estate agent looked pale and nervous, said Maria Lopez, a fellow agent who greeted him at the door of Exit Realty Gold Service at 4:30 p.m.
The two agents, who had not seen each other in weeks, greeted each other with a hug and a kiss and chatted briefly. Parera asked Lopez how much longer she planned to stay. Christine Capone King, the office receptionist, was the only other person in the spartan front office.
When Lopez answered "20 minutes," Parera made himself a cup of coffee, sat next to her and waited.
"He wasn’t there to do anything," Lopez said. "He was just sitting there drinking his coffee."
Feeling uncomfortable, Lopez got up to go home.
"I’ll see you when I see you," she recalls saying.
"Uh huh," Parera answered. It was around 4:40 p.m.
Her remarks, from a recent interview with The Star-Ledger, provide the first published eyewitness account of the minutes before Parera shot King to death at her desk around 4:44 p.m. After the shooting, Parera calmly called 911 to confess the murder, telling the dispatcher he would shoot anyone who approached. Minutes after that, Parera was killed in a parking lot gunbattle with police. Four weeks later police have not disclosed whether they know why Parera snapped.
Lopez’s description of a man eerily in control even as his life was about to unravel in a murderous rage is one of many new details the newspaper gathered from a review of documents and interviews with friends, family, co-workers, customers and others tied to the case in New Jersey, Florida and Indiana.
From that reporting, a dual picture emerges of man who remained cheerful on the outside while beset by pressure and failure from all sides.
Parera, known as "Leo" to his friends and family, seemed like a handsome, successful real estate agent and entrepreneur. But at age 39, he had one bankruptcy and a string of failed businesses behind him. He was living in a rundown apartment in Kearny with a chronically ill mother suffering from a brain tumor. Though he told at least one colleague he was married, he was spending his free time on the internet looking for tips on how to meet women. He was flailing as a real estate salesman.
Among the new details revealed by Parera’s friends and family:
• When he was hired at Exit Realty Gold last year, Parera showed at least one co-worker a photo of an attractive woman with blond hair he said was his newlywed wife. But a family member said Parera was never married and public records include no listings for a spouse. "We’re wondering if anything he ever told us was true," one co-worker said.
• The day before the shooting, Parera seemed to be acting oddly in his neighborhood in Kearny. Though it was mid-October, he walked barefoot into the local convenience store to buy Blue Monster energy drinks. When asked why he was barefoot, Parera told the store owner he had recently been at his waterfront apartment in Florida, where he often walked without shoes. But a family member said Parera had no Florida apartment.
• Parera spent the last decade caring for his mother, Gladys. In recent years, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and a brain tumor and suffered two strokes, a family member said. The pair lived together in their small Kearny apartment, where Parera was his mother’s primary caregiver.
• With one bankruptcy and other financial problems behind him, Parera was again struggling financially. Co-workers said he was among the least profitable real estate agents in his office and had trouble making sales in a job where most of his pay depended on commissions. Public records show he also started at least nine real estate and computer-related businesses under his name in recent years. None appeared to be profitable.
• In the minutes before he pulled out his gun, Parera took a call on his cell phone from a client who said he did not want to renew his 90-day contract with the agent to sell his house. Parera was business-like as he asked if the client would reconsider. The homeowner said no. "I didn’t have much of a conversation with him," said Robert Bishop, of West Milford. "He was very quiet."
TRIGGER REMAINS A MYSTERY
Friends and co-workers still wonder if there was something or someone else in Parera’s life that triggered the shooting. If he left a note or any other type of explanation, his family and friends say they don’t know about it. "He died and took his secret with him," said Waheed Albukhari, an Exit Realty Gold sales associate and one of Parera’s co-workers.
As Parera opened fire on Oct. 14, he and King were the only people left in the front office, co-workers said. Lyle Wolf, one of owners of the realty firm, was around the corner in his private office.
In the last moments of her life, King showed no signs she suspected anything was wrong. She showed Lopez, an agent and friend, photos of her children and the pair spoke about a dress King planned to wear to a wedding. As Lopez left for the night, King promised to text her later.
King, 47, was a married mother of two teenagers from Jefferson Township and a cancer survivor, friends said. She was known as the "heart of the office," according to co-workers who would stop by the bubbly receptionist’s desk to dip into her ever-present jar of candy.
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