Suspected Gunman, Victim Found Dead In LA House

Published February 17, 2012 9:18AM (EST)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rescuers pulled three gunshot victims from a burning Hollywood home but found the gunman and one of his victims dead inside the structure's charred remains, authorities say.

At the height of Thursday's blaze, TV news helicopters over the scene showed officers, some with shotguns, crouching near the corner of an apartment building as firefighters trained hoses on the flames from a distance.

Other firefighters stayed behind the protection of a fire engine.

The two bodies were found after the fire was out. The three other victims — two women and a man — were found shot at the home when police and firefighters arrived. They were all taken to a hospital in serious condition and expected to survive.

Police believe the gunman had a relationship with one of the surviving victims. The shooting was called "domestically motivated' but authorities did not elaborate.

Neighbor Rosemary Marroquin, 25, said the people who lived in the house had moved there within the past year. She believed three couples resided there and called them friendly people.

She said there were no signs of violence, and she never heard fighting or any disturbances.

Speaking through a Spanish translator, area resident Angelica De Paz said she was about to go to a store when she saw a man kick in the front door of the house. About five minutes later, De Paz said, she got a call from a neighbor who said the house was on fire.

"I thought it was a joke," De Paz said.

She described the man she saw as being in his 20s or 30s, wearing a black shirt with blue jeans.

Area resident Darwin Urbina said he saw a man of the same description sitting on a curb outside the house shortly before he heard shots. Urbina said he and the man looked at each other.

"He had this intense look," Urbina said. "He just stared at me for a while."

Urbina said he has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and described the area as being riddled with drugs and gang activity. He said the man had been in the area, but Urbina did not know if he lived there.

The rambling single-story home already was smoking when firefighters were called to the scene. A 34-year-old man and two 38-year-old women had been shot and police took them from the front of the home, authorities said.

The fire may have started in a detached garage at the rear of the home. Firefighters sent to the scene could only fight the surging flames from the outside. They were unable to enter the home out of concern that the gunman was still at large, fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.

In less than two hours, the fire burst through the roof and reduced most of the home to charred beams. It was so fierce that it was unlikely anyone inside survived, Moore said.

"The survivability of this fire is absolutely zero," he said.

The Fire Department had 130 firefighters on the scene, but the fire was largely allowed to burn itself out as water streams protected neighboring properties. The fire was whipped by gusty winds and an hour after it erupted the older, wooden, single-story house was a smoking ruin.

Police officers evacuated nearby buildings and established a perimeter in the neighborhood.


AP Writer Raquel Maria Dillon contributed to this report

By Salon Staff

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