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Neighbors shocked after 4 killed in quiet Northridge area

December 3, 2012 |  4:30 am

Neighbors in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Northridge expressed shock after two men and two women were found dead early Sunday.

"It's usually sleepy-time America," said Richard Rutherford, 58, who was awakened by the gunfire.

Los Angeles police are still trying to sort out what happened and what the motive for the slayings might be.

A woman who lived around the block said she heard loud music hours before the shootings. About 1:30 a.m., the woman said she heard the music and people yelling. She managed to go to sleep an hour later but said the noise hadn't stopped.

"I just figured it was a party that was out of control," she said.

Residents described the area as quiet, the kind of neighborhood where people know one another and walk to the nearby grocery store or the synagogue down the street from where the slayings occurred.

L.A. City Councilman Mitchell Englander, who represents the area and is a reserve LAPD officer, said Sunday afternoon that, based on information gathered during the investigation, the apparent homicides were a "targeted, isolated incident."

Englander said three of the bodies were found face-down, and the victims appeared to have been shot at close range.

Officers searched the property and neighborhood immediately after the shooting, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said, but no weapon was recovered.

The victims have not been identified. The female victims were in their 20s, one man was in his mid-30s and the other in his late-40s, officials said. Police say some of the victims lived at the residence and may have been related.

Englander said the property was an unlicensed boarding home, but had not been a problem location for police.

That was confirmed by neighbors, who said the rooms appeared to be rented out to single men who primarily kept to themselves. Nothing stood out, they said, except for some occasional loud music.

Englander said that about a dozen people were believed to have been living in the 4- or 5-bedroom home in conditions he described as “deplorable.” Mattresses and makeshift kitchens were scattered around the house, he said, and one room was only accessible through a window.

Police were called to the Devonshire Street home about 4:25 a.m. after shots were fired.

Crime for the last six months in Northridge:

Violent crimes (89)
Property crimes (895)

The violent crime rate for Northridge falls in the middle of all Los Angeles city neighborhoods, but homicide is rare in the community, according to LAPD data analyzed in The Times Crime L.A. database. In the previous six months, Northridge had one homicide among the 89 violent crimes reported. The location of the homicides discovered Sunday is on the border with Granada Hills, which typically has a much lower violent-crime rate than Northridge.

Since 2007 — prior to Sunday's quadruple homicide — Northridge had 11 homicides, all but one south of Nordhoff Street, according to L.A. County coroner's data compiled in The Times' Homicide Report. The most recent occurred Sept. 25, when Louis Villegas, 25, was fatally shot near Balboa Boulevard and Parthenia Street. Villegas was riding in a Lexus that had pulled over to the side of the road when a man approached and began shooting.

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— Kate Mather in Northridge

Photo: Police tape was used to maintain a perimeter around the crime scene on Devonshire Street. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times


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