COSTA MESA — In an apparent murder-suicide that claimed three lives Saturday night, a man shot his 9-year-old son and his wife before turning the gun on himself, police said.
Apartment manager Ernie Palkoner said the couple's other son, who is 6, came running to his home about 7 p.m. and said, "Mommy's been shot!" Palkoner said the boy identified his father as the person who had shot his mother.
Costa Mesa Police Capt. Tom Lazar gave little information at the scene at Foxhollow Village in the 600 block of West Wilson Street, other than to announce that three people had been shot and killed.
The adult male and the juvenile were found in a car outside the apartment, Lazar said. The woman was found inside the apartment, although Lazar would not say where. The captain also said a handgun had been recovered from the scene.
"It is very early in the investigation," Lazar said. "We are investigating this as a murder-suicide."
Palkoner, however, said Henry Hung Lam and his wife, Lein Lam, lived in the apartment. Their 9-year-old son's name was David, he said. The family had moved into the two-bedroom townhouse that rents for about $900 a month about a year ago, Palkoner said. The boys' grandfather had also lived with the family and was being interviewed by police Saturday night, he said.
The apartment manager believed that Henry Lam was either an investment banker or had something to do with real estate. Although the source of the family's troubles could not be pinpointed Saturday night, Palkoner believed the Lams had financial difficulties because the manager received a number of telephone calls asking verification of Henry Lam's address.
Neighbors gathered beyond yellow police tape at the apartment complex Saturday night but few said they knew the Lams. Several months ago, someone had broken into the Lams' home, some neighbors recalled.
Neighbor Wayne Latchford said he was working in his office at home when he heard two "crisp and clear" gunshots and thought it to be a drive-by shooting. Less than a minute later, he said, he heard two more muffled shots which may have been fired inside the car.