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Man accused of child abuse kills self as police move in

8-31-2007 California

MERCED -- A Merced resident described as a mild- mannered man who enjoyed working on cars killed himself in the parking lot of Raley's supermarket on Yosemite Avenue on Thursday, police said.

Investigators say his secrets did not die with him.

A squadron of more than 20 police officers descended on the parking lot minutes after Robert Wayne Daffron, 62, pulled a gun on two officers. Ultimately, he pointed the weapon at his head and pulled the trigger at 8:54 a.m.

Police say the retired bread delivery man was under investigation for child molestation -- as well as possessing and manufacturing child pornography. He was minutes away from being arrested by police when he committed suicide, they said. Cmdr. Tom Martin said police are investigating whether more suspects could be connected to the child pornography charges against Daffron.

"This investigation does not end with Mr. Daffron taking his own life," Martin said.

Although police remained tight-lipped about many parts of their investigation, Martin said the series of events leading to Daffron's suicide began in April, when he was arrested on suspicion of providing alcohol to a 14-year-old girl.

That arrest led investigators to conduct a search of Daffron's home May 15. While executing the search warrant, Martin said, Daffron was seen throwing a plastic bag containing a computer printer over his neighbor's backyard fence.

Investigators then questioned Daffron about the whereabouts of his computers and his car. Martin said he told police the computers had been stolen. Martin said Daffron had filed an earlier police report about the stolen computers.

The same day, police obtained a search warrant for a garage that belonged to a friend of Daffron's. There they found his 1966 Chevrolet Nova and his black pickup, along with two computers and a camera. He was booked on charges of filing a false police report and felony child endangerment charges.

Investigators say they found child pornography on the computers, and on Wednesday, investigators filed a $1 million warrant for his arrest.

Martin said Daffron shot himself minutes after police tried to pull over his Chevy 2003 Silverado truck on G Street and Yosemite Avenue. Two Merced police officers followed his truck into the Raley's parking lot. After Daffron stopped the truck, he stepped out, reached into the truck and pulled out a gun, first pointing it at the officers and then at himself, Martin said.

The officers dropped to the ground and ordered Daffron to put down the gun. Instead, he shot himself and died. No officers were injured. ..more.. by VICTOR A. PATTON

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