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Man shoots stepdaughter's family in Del Taco, killing her husband, son and himself, police say

June 19, 2010 |  8:27 pm

A 56-year-old man opened fire in a San Bernardino Del Taco restaurant Saturday afternoon, killing his stepdaughter’s husband and one of their two young sons before fatally shooting himself in the head, police said. The man also critically wounded his stepdaughter and her 5-year-old son.

The San Bernardino Police Department has not released the identities of the victims or the gunman.

The incident began at 1:14 p.m. Saturday when the man walked into the restaurant with two handguns and approached the family as they were eating lunch. He uttered a few words and quickly began shooting, according to police spokesman Lt. Jarrod Burguan, who said investigators were aided in their reconstruction of events by witnesses and the stepdaughter, who was able to communicate despite multiple gunshot wounds.

The stepdaughter, 29, and her sons, ages 5 and 6, were taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where the 6-year-old died shortly after arrival. The woman and the 5-year-old were both listed in critical condition Saturday night. Her husband, 33, died at the scene of the shooting.

At least five other patrons and about 10 employees were in the restaurant at the time of the shooting, but nobody else was hurt, Burguan said. He noted that the victims were all shot at close range and that several people outside the restaurant witnessed the mayhem.

“I saw some people yelling, and all of a sudden I heard ‘boom, boom, boom,’ ” Jorge Garcia, who works near the restaurant, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He said he saw two employees and several others run out of the restaurant and across the street.

Some witnesses said the gunman arrived on a bicycle, but police were not able to verify that Saturday night.

Burguan said little was known about the relationship between the gunman and his stepdaughter. The woman’s mother “died several years ago,” Burguan said.

The gunman’s last known address was in Lancaster, but police believe he had close connections in the San Bernardino area. In 2006, a restraining order had been issued against him. Police did not say who obtained the order but said it had nothing to do with his stepdaughter.

“This is just a terrible tragedy,” said Burguan. “A whole family? In my 18 years here I don’t recall anyone ever coming and walking in a public place like a restaurant and shooting like this. We haven’t had anything like this in a long, long time.”

-- Kurt Streeter

Photo: John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times