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Gunman attacks family in Downey; 3 dead, 2 wounded

October 24, 2012 |  5:54 pm

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

Authorities said that they don’t know the motive for the attack and that 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 have been shot in the head.

“The family was targeted for a specific reason,” Downey Police Lt. Dean Milligan said. “But we don’t know what that reason was yet.”

Dectectives are looking at surveillance tape from around the area, hoping 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 assailant was described as a 30-year-old black man about 6 feet tall and weighing 230 pounds. He was last seen in the carjacked 2010 black Chevy Camaro with 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 concrete 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 around 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 that 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 they had been told how safe the area was. A Coca-Cola bottling plant sits across the street and “has cameras everywhere,” she said.

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



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-- Wesley Lowrey, Andrew Khouri and Ruben Vives in Downey, Richard Winton and Kate Mater in Los Angeles

Photo: Children walk by the scene where Downey police are investigating a shooting rampage. Credit: Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times