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Father, boy killed, others wounded in Inglewood shooting rampage

Inglewood police find a body in the burned rental house of suspect Desmond John Moses, but have not confirmed the identity of the remains. Police say Moses, who was being evicted, torched the house.

October 21, 2012|By Louis Sahagun and Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
  • Officers are seen on 98th Street, behind the home on 99th Street where a man wearing a mask set a house aflame and shot five members of an Inglewood family, killing two.
Officers are seen on 98th Street, behind the home on 99th Street where a man… (Katie Falkenberg, For The…)

Awakened by the sound of gunshots, Fanny Paiz opened her window and looked across the dark Inglewood street to a nightmare scene of bloodied neighbors and a house in flames.

"I heard a man yelling," Paiz said. "Then I saw a lady run out into the street with a child in her arms. She was bleeding. She was standing in the middle of the street with the child, whose face was covered in blood. She fell down, screaming, 'He's shooting me. He's shooting me.' "

Three other shooting victims were in the house, all members of the same family who police say were attacked before dawn Saturday by a rampaging neighbor who was being evicted.

Police found the father, 30, slumped over two of his wounded children. He had been shot multiple times and died later in surgery, as did the 4-year-old boy carried into the street by his mother, who had been shot in both legs. She remains hospitalized in critical condition, as do her 6-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. An 8-year-old boy escaped uninjured.

Authorities did not release the family's name, but neighbors identified the couple as Filimon and Gloria Lamas.

"Phillip was a very hardworking man. He and Gloria were high school sweethearts. Their kids were all the world to them," said a woman who was crying uncontrollably at the scene.

Late Saturday, authorities said a body had been found in the smoldering ruins of the rental house of the suspect, Desmond John Moses, but they had not confirmed the identity of the remains. Inglewood police had said earlier that Moses had set fire to the house.

Moses, who authorities said is in his mid-50s, was described as reclusive and "really weird" by neighbors in the 4900 block of West 99th Street, which is about a mile west of Hollywood Park racetrack.

He lived in a small wooden house at the rear of a lot with two other homes. One was rented by the victims, the other by relatives of the victims.

Moses had lived there for at least two decades and had not paid his rent for years, according to neighbors. The landlord, who refused to give his name, said that on Tuesday a court gave Moses 15 days to get out of the house.

Late Saturday, firefighters were slowly sifting through the smoking debris of the house with shovels and rakes. The roof and one wall had collapsed.

"We have to be absolutely careful in going through the rubble," said Inglewood Police Lt. James Madia. "If he is in there, we will have solved the case."

With no indication that Moses had driven away, SWAT teams searched nearby houses and checked the trunks of vehicles leaving the block. At one point police were planning to send residents to a shelter while they scoured the neighborhood, but they dropped that idea.

By late afternoon, neighbors were milling about their front yards, trying to get a glimpse of the crime scene down the street, where chaos had erupted at 4 a.m.

"I saw a man running to the back house across the street. It was burning. I heard a man yelling," said Paiz, 43.

Aileen Ramirez, 11, who lives just behind the suspect's home, said she was awakened by "really, really loud gunshots and screaming. Somebody was yelling, 'Help me!' I ran outside with my mother and saw the house burning down."

Karla Carmona, 11, who lives with the Ramirez family, said she saw the roof collapsing and the fire "getting bigger and bigger."

Filimon Lamas, who property records show co-owned a Hawthorne cafe, was shot trying to protect his children.

"The father was found draped over two of the children, shielding them," said Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta.

Despite the fact that she had been shot in both legs, the children's mother, 28, managed to jump over the property's fence with her son, who had been shot in the head.

Paramedics found her collapsed on the street.

Her 7-year-old daughter was shot in the chest and the 6-year-old boy was wounded in his pelvis.

Aileen's brother, Yesualdo Ramirez, 20, described the children as "happy kids. We'd always see them kicking around soccer balls."

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Tom Richards said the suspect was a "pack rat." The house was so full of debris that a ladder truck was needed to help move it.

"That house was filled to the brim with stuff," he said.

louis.sahagun@latimes.com

bettina.boxall@latimes.com

Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe contributed to this report.

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