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3 family members killed, 2 wounded in Downey shooting attack

Authorities don't know why the family was targeted and said they are searching for the gunman, who allegedly fled in a Camaro stolen from one of the victims.

October 25, 2012|By Wesley Lowery, Ruben Vives and Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times
  • Downey police officers conduct their investigation near the shooting sites. “The family was targeted for a specific reason,” Downey police Lt. Dean Milligan said. “But we don’t know what that reason was yet.”
Downey police officers conduct their investigation near the shooting… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Five members of a Downey family were shot — three fatally — in a bizarre series of events that started at the business they owned and ended at their home a few blocks away.

Authorities said they don't know the motive for the attack and said they are searching for the gunman, who allegedly fled in a 2010 black Camaro stolen from one of the victims.

Witnesses described seeing family members wounded and bleeding outside both properties, including one woman who appeared to be shot in the head.

PHOTOS: Downey shooting rampage

"The family was targeted for a specific reason," Downey police Lt. Dean Milligan said. "But we don't know what that reason was yet."

Detectives are now looking at surveillance tapes from around the area in the hope they can shed light on what happened.

The first sign of trouble came at 11:12 a.m., when someone called 911 about a shooting at the business, United States Fire Protection Services. When officers arrived three minutes later, they found a man and a woman dead and another woman wounded.

At 11:17 a.m., police received a second call from the home of the business owner, about two blocks away, in the 8500 block of Cleta Street. There, they found another dead woman and a wounded 13-year-old boy.

The boy told police he didn't recognized the gunman, Milligan said. The shooter was described as a 30-year-old black man about 6 feet tall and 230 pounds. He was last seen in the Camaro, which had the license plate 6LEA010.

Grace Mendez said she saw the teenager near the business as she drove down Cleta Street.

"He was screaming, 'Oh my God, oh my God!" Mendez, 33, said. "And then I saw that he was shot in the shoulder blade and stomach."

Police tried to help him, Mendez said, adding: "He had gone into complete shock." She also saw a woman sitting on a cement wall, bleeding from her head.

A woman who works near the business said she heard a heard a helicopter and went outside, where she saw one of the business owners on his knees, crying.

"He told me his mom got shot in the head and the bullet came out," said the woman, who declined to give her name.

As news of the shooting spread, worried family members hurried to the business, desperate for answers.

"My wife works in there!" yelled a man in a white T-shirt who approached the police tape about 1 p.m. "I need to know if she's OK!"

Residents and business owners said they were shocked by the violence. They described the area as safe and the family as hard-working, owners who would lock the front door of the business even if they were inside.

Blanca Parker said one of the reasons she moved her copier company to Cleta Street was because she had been told the area was safe. A Coca-Cola bottling plant across the street "has cameras everywhere," she said.

"I'm at a loss for words," Parker said. "Everyone figured nothing bad would ever happen over here."

Art Portillo lives directly behind Cleta Street near the house. The 60-year-old retired building inspector said the neighborhood was quiet and he never saw any signs of trouble.

"I have never heard anything," he said. "That's why we moved here. This is so quiet you can hear a pin drop."

Times staff writers Kate Mather and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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