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Police can't determine killer in S.F. home where 5 found dead

March 24, 2012 |  9:05 am

The crime scene at the San Francisco home where five people were found dead Friday was so chaotic that police said they have not identified who did the killing and aren't sure how each of the victims died.

Although police have stopped short of calling the case a murder-suicide, they emphasized that the crime  at 16 Howth St. was an isolated incident and there are no suspects at large.
"We just can't tell," said police Cmdr. Lyn Tomioka told the San Francisco Chronicle, adding the medical examiner will have to sort out the details.  "It is a very difficult scene."
The victims, believed to all be from one family, have not been named by authorities, but they say at least two appear to have been killed by gunfire.

“This does appear to be a tragic incident that is specific to this address,” San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza told The Times. “There’s no danger to public safety.”

Esparza said that three women and two men were discovered about 7:45 a.m. Friday by a woman who may also be a family member.

Medical examiner's investigator Charles Cecil said the bodies had been transported to the examiner’s office by about 3:30 p.m. Friday. He said an examination would probably take place Monday but provided no additional details on the causes of death.

Esparza said authorities got a call from a woman with access to the house, which is just feet from an expensive private high school and the city college. Upon arrival, she found a man dead in the foyer just inside the door. She then found two additional victims in the garage.

“Then she ran out of the house,” Esparza said. “It’s pretty traumatic.”

When authorities arrived, they discovered the other two victims in the back of the house.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee weighed in Friday, calling the incident “a terrible tragedy.”

“As the San Francisco Police Department thoroughly investigates this incident, I extend, on behalf of the city, our support and sympathy to all family members and friends of the victims involved in this crime,” Lee said in a statement.

Esparza said he couldn’t remember another incident like this one during a decade on the force, particularly in this area, which he called “very quiet.” Lick-Wilmerding High School, a well-known private school, is near the house.

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-- Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

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