Gunman shoots family of 5; police find third body inside home
Authorities Sunday were continuing to piece together the shooting and fire at an Inglewood home that left three people dead, including a young child, and three others wounded.
Five members of a family were found shot Saturday morning. Then on Saturday night, the body of another person was found in the rubble.
"We do have a body," said Inglewood police Lt. James Madia, adding that police were taking care not to disturb it and had not made a tentative identification.
The house was rented by Desmond John Moses, who authorities say went on a rampage before dawn Saturday, shooting five members of a family that lived next to him. The father, 30, and his 4-year-old son were fatally wounded. The mother, 28, and two other children, a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy, are hospitalized in critical condition. An 8-year-old boy was not injured.
Authorities believe Moses, in his mid 50s, set the house on fire. He was described by neighbors as a recluse, and authorities said his house was jammed with items, complicating the search through the charred wreckage.
Moses lived in the rear of a lot with two other rental houses, one of them the victims', in the 4900 block of West 99th Street. He had not paid his rent in years and the landlord said he had obtained an eviction order Tuesday giving Moses 15 days to move out.
Neighbors awoke at 4 a.m. to gunshots, screams and the sight of flames engulfing the small house Moses had lived in for at least two decades.
Authorities did not release the family’s name, but neighbors identified the couple as Filimon and Gloria Lamas. A woman sobbing at the scene Saturday said the two had been high school sweethearts.
Moses was described as "really weird" by some in the neighborhood, which is about a mile west of Hollywood Park racetrack.
Late Saturday, firefighters were slowly sifting through the smoking debris of the house with shovels and rakes. The roof and one wall had collapsed.
"We have to be absolutely careful in going through the rubble," said Madia. "If he is in there, we will have solved the case."
With no indication that Moses had driven away, SWAT teams searched nearby houses and checked the trunks of vehicles leaving the block. At one point police were planning to send residents to a shelter while they scoured the neighborhood, but they dropped that idea.
By late afternoon, neighbors were milling about their front yards, trying to get a glimpse of the crime scene down the street.
Aileen Ramirez, 11, who lives behind the suspect's home, said she was awakened by "really, really loud gunshots and screaming. Somebody was yelling, 'Help me!' I ran outside with my mother and saw the house burning down."
Karla Carmona, 11, who lives with the Ramirez family, said she saw the roof collapsing and the fire "getting bigger and bigger."
Filimon Lamas, who property records show co-owned a Hawthorne cafe, was shot trying to protect his children.
"The father was found draped over two of the children, shielding them," said Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta.
Despite the fact that she had been shot in both legs, the children's mother, 28, managed to jump over the property's fence with her son, who had been shot in the head.
Paramedics found her collapsed on the street.
Her 7-year-old daughter was shot in the chest and the 6-year-old boy was wounded in his pelvis.
Aileen's brother, Yesualdo Ramirez, 20, described the children as "happy kids. We'd always see them kicking around soccer balls."
Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Tom Richards said the suspect was a "pack rat." The house was so full of debris that a ladder truck was needed to help move it.
"That house was filled to the brim with stuff," he said.
— Bettina Boxall and Louis Sahagun
Photo: Los Angeles County firefighters sift through a burned-out home at the scene of a deadly shooting and fire in Inglewood. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times