Two women and a man were found fatally shot inside a Hacienda Heights home Wednesday in what investigators initially believed to be a murder-suicide.
The names of the dead women and man were not released pending positive identification and confirmation that family had been notified, Lt. Dave Dolson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. He described all three as being between their 50s and 80s.
Neighbors described the victim as an elderly husband and wife who lived in the home, along with another family member they often cared for who suffered from Alzheimer’s.
A 9-1-1 call reporting a shooting just after 9 a.m. brought deputies to the home on Ladysmith Street at Flatstone Avenue, Capt. Tim Murakami said. Once they entered the home, deputies found the bodies of two women who had been fatally shot, as well wounded man.
“We believe we have a murder-suicide situation,” Dolson said, but added that the investigation remained in its early stages.
“Because it’s so early in the investigation, I don’t want to emphatically make that determination,” he said.
One of the women, who made use of a wheelchair, was found fatally shot in a bedroom, Dolson said. The other woman’s body was discovered the home’s living room.
The wounded man, who was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting, was found in the backyard of the home, Dolson said.
Two guns — a shotgun and a handgun — were found near the wounded man, sheriff’s officials said.
There were no signs an intruder had been inside the home, and no outstanding suspects were being sought, Murakami said.
It appeared Wednesday that at least one 9-1-1 call reporting the shooting came from inside the home, Dolson said. The caller had a male voice, but it was unclear if it was the suspected shooter who placed the call.
A neighbor who identified himself only as Joe said he was awakened by arguing prior to the shooting.
“I heard arguing since 7 a.m.,” he said. “It was loud.” But he added he could not make out what was being said.
About two hours later, the neighbor said he heard what sounded like two gunshots.
Joe said he found it hard to believe his neighbor could be responsible for the deaths of his wife and the second woman, whom he described as the man’s daughter-in-law.
“I can’t imagine. The kindness that he had,” he said. “They were very good neighbors. They were a nice old couple.”
The couple remained active, and the husband could often be seen working in his garage, Joe said.
And every time Joe greeted his neighbor, he said the man had the same response: “Another beautiful day.”
Neighbors said the man and wife had lived in the home for five decades, and they were shocked to learn of the violence that unfolded inside their home early Wednesday.
“I can’t believe it,” said neighbor Julie Minjarez. “They were a nice family.”
Minjarez added that she walks by the home daily and has never seen any sign of trouble.
“They were very active people,” Minjarez said, adding that they often went on vacation in a motor home.
“They seemed outgoing and lively people.”
Tom Watts, a teacher at a local elementary school, noticed helicopters hovering over Hacienda Heights and went to check on his parents after learning there was an incident unfolding near their home.
He described the couple that lived in the home as “very friendly,” and “very talkative.”
“They enjoyed camping,” Watts added.
But in a conversation Watts said his father had with the man who lived at the home about three weeks ago, the man mentioned he was depressed.
Staff photos by Watchara Phomicinda