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Downey shooting rampage ‘not a random act,’ police say

October 24, 2012 |  3:21 pm

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

Downey police said they still don't know why a gunman opened fire on the family that owned a local fire extinguisher company, killing three and wounding two others at their business and nearby home.

"Obviously, there's a reason why this happened, we're just trying to figure what that is," Downey Police Lt. Dean Milligan said. "It's not a random act of violence."

Police said they have not had any reports of problems at the business, United States Fire Protection Services, and are trying to talk to friends and surviving family members.

They are also reviewing video footage from nearby businesses, including a Coca Cola plant across the street.

Police said they received their first 911 call at 11:12 a.m. from a cellphone caller at or near the business. Five minutes later, they received a second call from a home about a block away on Cleta Street.

A man and woman were found dead at the business, and a second woman was found dead at the home. Two others were wounded in the shooting and are being treated at area hospitals.

Authorities said they are searching for a 30-year-old black man who is about 6 feet tall and weighs 230 pounds. He is believed to be driving a carjacked 2010 black Chevy Camaro with the license plate 6LEA010 in which he fled.

As police tried to sort out the events surrounding the shooting, friends and family rushed to the business in search of information.

"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."

He pleaded with an officer, who directed him to a police command post a few blocks away. Brushing aside television cameras, he sprinted in the direction of the command post, in search of information.

A woman who works near the business said she saw her friend, the business owner, 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.

"I came here as soon as I heard," said a former employee of the company, who declined to give his name. "The family seemed like good people. I'm just wondering what happened."

Owners of other businesses on the street -- many of whom said they had their fire safety equipment installed by the family -- said they were shocked by the shootings because the business seemed particularly secure.

The front door was always locked, they said, and customers and visitors had to knock or be let in by a receptionist.

"I'm at a loss for words," said Blanca Parker, co-owner of a copier company a few doors away.

She said one if the reasons she and her husband moved their company to Cleta Street was because they'd been told how safe the area is.

"The Coke plant has cameras everywhere, so everyone figured nothing bad would ever happen over here," she said.

Art Portillo, 60, who lives directly behind Cleta Street near where the shooting took place, said there have never been any problems in the neighborhood.

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

[For the record, 5 p.m. Oct. 24: An earlier version of this post gave an incorrect spelling for Blanca Parker's name.]

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-- Wesley Lowery, Ruben Vives and Andrew Khouri

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