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Neighbor: 'Something was weird'

One neighbor said it seemed that Beck
One neighbor said it seemed that Beck "never went to work."  


SANTA CLARITA, California (CNN) -- At least one neighbor suspected several months ago that "something was weird" at 26444 Brooks Circle, the two-story stucco house into which James Beck and his girlfriend moved about six months ago.

Authorities believe Beck died in a fire that consumed that house Friday, hours into a standoff that began after he allegedly shot and killed a sheriff's deputy.

One neighbor said she was suspicious of Beck before the deadly incident.

"He was telling everyone he was a federal marshal, and it didn't seem to be checking out," said Lisa Willes, 33, who lives two houses down the street from Beck's home, which was reduced to an ash pit Friday.

"It seemed he never went to work," she said. "He was here all the time."

Some neighbors checked out his story and found no corroboration, she said. "I kind of knew something was weird," Willes said.

Beck's girlfriend would drive off in the mornings in a late-model car, and he would walk his large, well-trained German shepherd through the neighborhood of $400,000 to $500,000 homes that were built two years ago, she said. His own late-model, champagne-colored car rarely left his house.

Though he was friendly to the neighbors on the street and picked up after his dog, Beck -- who had no children living with him -- stuck out in the neighborhood of stay-at-home moms, Willes said.

"I thought he talked to the women in the neighborhood a little too much," said Willes, mother of three daughters, ages 2, 4 and 6.

Beck, 35, lived in one of the street's smaller houses -- three bedrooms, two baths, plus a "bonus" room -- said Willes, who checked it out before it was sold to Beck's girlfriend.

But another neighbor, Steven Hamburger, said Beck's claim that he was a U.S. marshal with the canine unit never struck him as odd. "I never suspected anything," he told CNN.

Hamburger was in his home office at 8:30 Friday morning when he heard "noises that sounded like wood being delivered, being dropped on the pavement. Apparently, it wasn't."

He looked out his window and saw agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in his back yard, which adjoins Beck's back yard, and heard gunfire.







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