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Details emerge after deadly rampage

The Inglewood family that was targeted by a gunman had tension with the neighbor.

October 22, 2012|Angel Jennings and Kate Mather and Garrett Therolf
  • A former neighbor grieves for the victims outside the home in Inglewood.
A former neighbor grieves for the victims outside the home in Inglewood. (Christina House, For the…)

The body of the suspect in a Saturday morning rampage in which five members of an Inglewood family were shot -- two fatally -- was believed to have been found in the ashes of his home, wearing body armor, clutching a revolver and bearing a gunshot wound to the head, police said Sunday.

A corpse was discovered among the remains of a torched house on West 99th Street inhabited by Desmond John Moses, a 55-year-old licensed security guard and the registered owner of the .38-caliber handgun. A positive identification of the body is expected in the coming days.

Police suspect that Moses indiscriminately opened fire on the family who rented a bungalow on the same property, blaming them for an eviction notice he had received from their landlord.

The family had called police several times asking them to conduct a welfare check after becoming concerned about Moses' increasing isolation and odd behavior, a relative said. The landlord said he had obtained an eviction order Tuesday that gave the man 15 days to move out.

Moses allegedly attacked the family around 4 a.m. Saturday while wearing a painter's mask. Neighbors were jolted awake by the gunfire.

Filimon Lamas and his wife, Gloria Jimenez, tried to protect their four children, authorities said. Lamas was found slumped over three of them; Jimenez, despite being shot in both legs and her pelvis, jumped a fence and ran from the home cradling their 4-year-old son, who had been shot in the head.

Lamas, 30, and the 4-year-old later died. On Sunday, Jimenez, 28, remained in stable condition at UCLA Medical Center. The couple's 7-year-old daughter, shot in the chest, was "critical but stable," police said.

Their 6-year-old son, shot in the pelvis, was released from the hospital Sunday and was resting with family members, a relative said. Their 8-year-old son was not hurt in the attack.

Shortly after the shooting rampage Saturday, Moses' home was in flames. Authorities have said they believe he set it on fire.

Jimenez had worried that Moses was "not all there," her brother Jaime said. He said Moses grunted when the family greeted him and complained when the children played in the yard between their houses. Neighbors said Moses appeared to have no friends or family and had not paid rent in years.

Online records from the California Department of Consumer Affairs show that Moses has held a "guard/ patrolperson registration" since 1984. He appears to have kept up with the renewal process, as the registration was valid through August 2013.

A spokesman said security guard registrations require renewal every two years. New applicants are fingerprinted and run through an FBI and state Department of Justice database. That does not happen when the license is renewed, the spokesman said.

Police said they did not know whether Moses was working as a security guard. The state does not keep track of where those who register as guards are employed.

Despite their problems with Moses, Lamas and Jimenez enjoyed a happy life, according to neighbors and friends.

The two met while attending Hawthorne High School, and Lamas supported his young family as part owner of Chips, a 1950s-style diner on Hawthorne Boulevard that serves $4.95 waffle specials and fresh pozole.

Eight years ago, the couple married and moved into the bungalow on West 99th Street -- next door to Jimenez's childhood home, where her father still lives. All but one of her five siblings live on the same block in the modest, largely working-class Latino neighborhood.

Jimenez took care of her children, spending many hours at the local park where all but the youngest played soccer. She attended beauty school about four years ago and mostly used those skills to style her daughter's, mother's and sister's hair, her brother said. "She felt like she wanted to have something in case something happened that she could fall back on."

Meanwhile, Lamas "poured his heart" into Chips. "He felt this was what was going to make the family successful," Jaime Jimenez said. "It was his way to provide for the family."

When asked how the surviving family members will cope after the death of their breadwinner, Jimenez started sobbing.

"All he breathed was his family," he said after regaining his composure. "All he did, all he talked about, was his family."

Neighbor Erica Gomez said the loving couple had only one complaint: that they didn't have enough time to spend with each other.

When the couple had down time, they would go to Mexico and visit relatives in Jalisco, where Gloria Jimenez's parents had grown up.

Recently, Jimenez told her brother that she'd just been approved for a home loan. "She was very excited that they were qualified to buy a home," he said. "She was moving on to a new chapter in her life."

He stopped by the bungalow Thursday to help her search for a new place. She hadn't pinned down an area but mentioned that she did not plan to buy her current home, he said. "She felt the property was too small for the family."

On Sunday, friends and family of the victims spent much of the day outside the pediatric intensive care unit at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.

They clustered in the hall or sat exhausted in a waiting room, and entered the intensive care unit in groups of two or three. At one point, a priest visited and hugged family members.

Jimenez was doing "OK," said a man who identified himself as her father. He then lowered his head. "I just lost my son-in-law and one of my grandchildren."

--

angel.jennings@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

garrett.therolf@latimes.com

Times staff writer Ari Bloomekatz contributed to this report.

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