4 killed in Northridge at 'filthy,' unlicensed boarding home, officials say
The Northridge home where four people were found shot and killed early Sunday morning was an unlicensed boarding home, where as many as 17 people lived, according to police and city officials.
"It was deplorable conditions -- very filthy, unsanitary, unhealthy and unsafe," said Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander, who walked through the home on Sunday.
"Just trash and litter, old food all over the place. It almost looked like it could have been a hoarder as well."
The shooting occurred about 4:25 a.m. Sunday at a house in the 17400 block of Devonshire Street, authorities said. After receiving a 911 call describing yelling and gunfire, officers went to the home and found two men and two women shot dead outside.
The names of the victims have not been released, and the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said a security hold had been placed on the case.
Officials from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety inspected some areas of the property on Sunday, except for those restricted by the police investigation.
City staff are researching records to determine whether the building was properly permitted and what, if any, inspections may have taken place, said David Lara, a building department spokesman.
According to building records, the most recent city interaction at the home appears to be in June 2009, when code enforcement received a call reporting that the garage had been converted into a dwelling without a permit.
The call was made June 2, but an inspection of the property on June 26 concluded that the garage had not been converted, and the case was closed.
In 2003, the property owner was cited for unpermitted construction to create a carport and extend the roof and unpermitted outdoor storage of construction materials.
But based on his visit on Sunday, Englander said the property had "clearly illegal structures that were hardly habitable and unsafe" in the back, and someone had built a structure above a carport that was only accessible by "very steep stairs." Several electrical cords ran from the home to the structures.
There were makeshift kitchens, old small refrigerators everywhere, "a lot of cats" and a "deep, deep stench of urine," Englander said.
The owner of the home, Yag Kapil, said he was sleeping at the time of the shootings and "didn't hear it at all."
"I don't know anything about this," Kapil, 78, said.
"It's just a house," he said.
He said he does not know the people who were killed and that they did not rent rooms from him.
When Englander visited, Kapil, who is bed-ridden, was in his room, which had electrical cords running in through the top of the door. A sign on the room said: "no smoking, oxygen in use."
-- Kate Mather, Andrew Blankstein and Wesley Lowery