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Northridge shooting: Portions of illegal boardinghouse red-tagged

December 4, 2012 |  4:27 pm
City inspectors red-tagged parts of a Northridge property Tuesday that officials described as an illegal boardinghouse where four people were shot and killed.

Three inspectors from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety visited the home in the 17400 block of Devonshire Street on Tuesday and ordered parts of the property vacated after determining they were uninhabitable due to safety concerns, department spokesman David Lara said.

Officials became aware of the home after police responded to a call there at 4:25 a.m. Sunday and found four people — two men and two women — shot dead outside.

PHOTOS: Four killed in shooting at Northridge home

Arrests have been made in connection with the slayings, sources familiar with the investigation told The Times on Tuesday. LAPD was expected to reveal more information about the case at an afternoon news conference.

The city inspectors found "numerous code violations" inside the main two-story home, Lara said, and red-tagged some parts of the house. The other areas ordered vacated were a garage and structures in the back of the property.

Authorities have said that as many as 17 people might have lived in the home, but Lara said inspectors were unable to determine the exact number because it was largely vacant by the time they arrived.

The city's Housing Department said it would try to determine how many people lived there and assist tenants with relocation, agency spokesman Rushmore Cervantes said.

Inspectors found numerous violations, including unpermitted structures in the back of the property that were being used as living quarters and illegal construction and partitioned walls inside the main home. There was also a potential gas leak near the garage.

L.A. City Councilman Mitchell Englander, who toured the home Sunday after the shootings, described the conditions as "deplorable." The home was littered with old food and trash, he said, and mattresses and portable stoves were scattered about. It had so much debris and so many partitions that one room could be accessed only through a window. A trail of extension cords powered the makeshift structures in the back.

The main house was also "filthy," Englander said, with several cats roaming the property and a "deep, deep stench of urine" permeating the home.

City inspectors had visited the property in the last decade, records at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety showed. The most recent was in June 2009, when code enforcement received a call reporting that the house's garage had been converted into a dwelling without a permit. Three weeks later, an inspection concluded that the garage had not been converted and the case was closed.

The property owner had previously been cited in 2003 for unpermitted construction and illegal outdoor storage of construction materials.

Lara said inspectors suspect illegal construction occurred after the 2009 visit, but said they can't be sure until a full investigation is complete.

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— Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather

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