Arraignment continued until June; Memorial fund set up for family of victims
Robert Allan Lehmann, 36, sent his current wife out to ice cream with his daughter and laid in wait with a firearm for his ex-wife and her father, according to an Orange County District Attorney’s (OC DA) Office statement released Thursday.
Emily Ford, 32, and her father Russell Ford, 62, were shot and killed by Lehmann after they arrived at his Costa Mesa home to take court-ordered custody of the former couple’s 7-year-old daughter round 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
The DA alleges that Lehmann began shooting immediately after Lehmann opened the door. The father and daughter tried to run away, but Lehmann chased after them and continued to shoot, according to the DA’s office.
Both victims were shot several times in the back and fell to the ground, according to the DA‘s statement.
“As Emily Ford and Russell Ford lay bleeding on the ground, Lehmann is accused of reloading his firearm and executing the victims by shooting them repeatedly in the back and back of the head,” the OCDA announcement states.
The Costa Mesa man had lost custody of their special needs daughter to Ford on Tuesday.
Lehmann was charged with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon, multiple murders, and lying in wait during Thursday’s arraignment in Santa Ana. The arraignment was set to be continued June 24.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of two terms of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. He is currently being held without bail.
The DA alleges that Lehmann sent his current wife out for ice cream with his daughter shortly before the scheduled meeting with Ford. Ford had brought her newborn baby, who is not Lehann’s child, with her to the custody pick-up and had left the baby in the car. The baby, who was not harmed, and the 7-year-old girl are now with other relatives.
Lehmann is also accused of hitting two other cars that were parked across the street from his house. Nobody was injured with the stray bullets.
Ford was arrested Tuesday evening after the shooting by Costa Mesa police. Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the homicide unit is prosecuting this case.
Emily Ford was a Newport-Mesa special education instructional aide, according to a statement released by Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Wednesday. She was an aide in the preschool program at Paularino Elementary School, according to the statement.
“We are deeply saddened to inform the Newport-Mesa community of the loss of one of our staff members,” said school board president Walt Davenport.
She had worked for NMUSD since 2007 and worked as an aide at Paularino, Sonora and Harper preschools and Andersen and Marniers elementary schools. Ford also had a daughter attending Sonora Elementary School, according to the district statement.
Russell Ford was a retired teacher who worked on special assignment at Santa Ana Unified School District, where he worked from 1978 through 2010. He also worked in the preschool program at Spurgeon Intermediate School.
A crisis response team visited both Paularino and Sonora schools Wednesday morning, the district announcement stated, and will continue to be on call should students, staff or parents need.
Many community members visited the school Wednesday morning and offered assistance, Davenport said. The board members and district staff all appreciate the support, he added.
A memorial has been established for Emily and Russell Ford. Donations can be made to the Ford Family Memorial Fund account 109350-2 at Downey Federal Credit Union or dropped off at Paularino school in Costa Mesa.
The memorial fund was originally established after another Ford family member, Theresa Ford, the principal at Rio Hondo Elementary School in Downey Unified School District (DUSD), lost her husband and daughter. Friends and colleagues at DUSD established the memorial fund.
No information about the memorial services has been made available yet.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Emily’s family during this very difficult and sad time,” Davenport said. “Our entire Newport-Mesa school community has been touched by Emily’s loss and she will be deeply missed.”