Detectives were looking into the possibility an El Monte man accidentally shot his daughter Tuesday before intentionally shooting her girlfriend to death and committing suicide, officials said.
Harry Maldonado, 65, is believed to be the gunman who fatally shot his daughter, 32-year-old Evie Maldonado, and her girlfriend, 38-year-old Diana Amaya, about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday before turning the handgun on himself, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
The three, who lived together in a condominium in the 9900 block of Marshal Street, became involved in an argument inside the home’s garage when the shooting took place, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Detectives suspected the triple-fatal shooting may have started as an accident when Harry Maldonado brandished a semi-automatic handgun during an argument. The first person shot was his daughter.
“It could have been an accidental discharge,” Hernandez said. But then shots that rang out next were not believed to be accidental.
“He definitely intentionally shot (Amaya) and himself,” the lieutenant said.
It was unclear what the group was arguing about when the shooting occurred, he added.
Evie Maldonado and Amaya, who had been dating about 8 years, “had a tumultuous relationship.” Hernandez said.
A 21-year-old daughter of Amaya witnessed a great deal of the incident and was able to provide a description of what took place, Hernandez said.
Amaya’s daughter tried to intervene, striking Harry Maldonado with a broom stick, Amaya’s nephew, Eddie Ordonez said. He added he believed the gunman may have tried to shoot Amaya first, but missed, fatally wounding his daughter instead.
But with both the suspect and victims dead, Hernandez said exactly what unfolded on Marshall Street Tuesday night may never be known.
Friends said they were puzzled over how Harry Maldonado, who they described as calm and peaceful, could be responsible for the shooting. He was a former Marine who served two combat tours in Vietnam, Hernandez said.
Family members gathered at the Maldonado home Wednesday declined to comment.
Amaya is survived by four daughters and a son, Ordonez said.
“We’re taking it as a family really hard,” he said.
“If anyone ever knew Diana Amaya, they would know how special and one of kind she was,” Ordonez said in a written statement. “She would give the shirt off her back to help anyone in need and never ask for anything in return. Her laugh filled the room and was so contagious that everyone who heard couldn’t help but smile.”
“Her passing was too soon and she will forever be in the hearts of those who loved her,” the nephew said. “As a family, we stand together in this time of mourning and sorrow. We find strength and solace in the memories we have, and this will never be taken from us. Rest in Peace, Nana. We love and miss you.”
Donations to help with cost of Amaya’s services are being accepted online at www.gofundme.com/4uji0s.
PHOTO – Diane Amaya, 38, of El Monte, pictured with her five children. (Courtesy)