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Slaying of 4 rocks Northridge neighborhood

Four bodies are found with gunshots outside a home. Police have no suspects or motive.

December 02, 2012|By Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times
  • The bodies of two men and two women were found outside a home on Devonshire Street in Northridge early Sunday. Neighbors say rooms in the home had been rented out to male tenants.
The bodies of two men and two women were found outside a home on Devonshire… (Francine Orr, Los Angeles…)

Shane Grady was jolted awake early Sunday when he heard gunfire on Devonshire Street.

He said he dropped to the floor and looked out his window, but the slowing traffic blocked his view.

Then came the police sirens and helicopter flying so low, another neighbor said, that it was "shaking the rooftop."

PHOTOS: Four killed in shooting at Northridge home

Residents in the usually quiet Northridge neighborhood woke up to a shocking scene. Police said two men and two women were found shot dead outside a home in the 17400 block of Devonshire in the San Fernando Valley.

Investigators do not have a motive or suspects. City Councilman Mitchell Englander, who represents the area and is a reserve LAPD officer, said police believe the slayings weren't a random act.

Officers were dispatched to the home about 4:25 a.m., LAPD Capt. William Hayes said. A 911 caller reported hearing yelling and "a number of shots," Hayes said.

Three of the bodies were found face-down, and the victims appeared to have been shot at close range, Englander said.

Officers searched the property and neighborhood immediately after the shooting, LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said, but no weapon was recovered.

The victims had not been identified Sunday evening. The female victims were in their 20s; one man was in his mid-30s and the other in his late 40s, Hayes said. Police believe at least some of the victims lived at the residence and may have been related.

Englander said the property was an unlicensed boarding home, but had not been a problem location for police.

That was confirmed by neighbors, who said the rooms appeared to have been rented out to single men who primarily kept to themselves. Nothing stood out, they said, except for some occasional loud music.

Englander said that about a dozen people were believed to have been living in the four- or five-bedroom home in conditions he described as "deplorable." Mattresses and makeshift kitchens were scattered about the house, he said, and one room was accessible only by a window.

A woman who lived around the block said she heard loud music hours before the shootings. About 1:30 a.m., the woman said she heard the music and people yelling. She managed to go to sleep an hour later but said the noise hadn't stopped.

"I just figured it was a party that was out of control," the woman said.

Residents described the area as quiet, the kind of neighborhood where people know one another and walk to the nearby grocery store or the synagogue down the street from where the slayings occurred.

The LAPD's Devonshire Division station is a mile away.

"It's usually sleepy-time America," said Richard Rutherford, 58, who also was awakened by the gunfire.

Englander, who chairs the City Council's Public Safety Committee, said he was "shocked" by the incident.

"Typically you don't have these kinds of incidents in this type of community," he said.

The violent crime rate for Northridge falls in the middle of all Los Angeles neighborhoods, but homicide is rare in the community, according to LAPD data analyzed in The Times' Crime L.A. database. In the previous six months, Northridge had one homicide out of the 89 violent crimes reported.

Since 2007, and before Sunday's quadruple homicide, Northridge had 11 homicides, 10 of them south of Nordhoff Street. The location of Sunday's slayings is on the border with Granada Hills, which typically has a much lower violent-crime rate than Northridge.

Jeff Kaye, 62, remembered a few incidents in the 33 years he's lived in the neighborhood. There was a shooting a few years back, he said, and he once walked in on a robbery. But nothing like Sunday's shooting had occurred.

"It concerns you," he said. "You want to know what's going on."

A few onlookers stopped by as investigators prepared to bring the bodies out of the home, and some drivers shouted questions at news crews gathered at the scene. "What's going on?" one man yelled.

"How often in this neighborhood do you hear about four dead bodies?" Grady said.

kate.mather@latimes.com

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