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4 dead in Pomona murder-suicide; boyfriend apparently was gunman

Law EnforcementCrimeShootingsSuicide
Slain woman was about to kick boyfriend, the apparent gunman, out of Pomona home
Pomona police: "There wasn't enough time for either the family or police to respond" to a threat
Family: Murder victim was a pastry chef who traveled the U.S.

In the end — from the threatening phone call to the plea for police to please hurry — there just wasn't enough time to save those inside the modest home on Ramsey Way in Pomona.

Officers said that by the time they got to the street-corner home, all four people inside were dead: the mother, the daughter, the son and a person described as an angry boyfriend who apparently shot them all before turning the gun on himself.

Police said they were summoned just before midnight Thursday after the apparent gunman called his brother, who in turn called police to warn them of what his brother planned to do.

"It was within a few minutes, and unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for either the family or police to respond," said Pomona police Lt. Mike Keltner. "This could've happened within 30 seconds, easily."

A surviving daughter, April Mejia, 30, identified the victims as her mother, Manuela Padilla, 52; sister, Maryann Padilla, 25; and brother, Juan Padilla, 17.

Police said the gunman, 28, was dating the younger woman. They did not identify him, but Mejia said the family knew him well enough.

Maryann Padilla had planned to break up with the man the night of the shootings, Mejia said, and her mother said she wanted him to move out because he was jobless, didn't go to school and was a burden on the family.

"She was basically supporting him," Mejia said. "I know my mom wanted him out. She got fed up — asked him to leave."

Detectives said the mother was killed while lying in bed and the siblings were probably standing when they were shot. The gunman was found lying dead at his girlfriend's feet.

The violence shocked neighbors, who said that while shootings weren't unheard of in the neighborhood, their stretch of Ramsey Way had long been a quiet retreat.

"We're used to drug stuff and gang crimes, but not a murder-suicide," said resident Leonardo Piña, 38. "This is something different; it's horrible."

Authorities said there was no history of incidents at the home and neighbors only recalled seeing the family in chance passings when they would walk to the store or if the teen was riding his bike.

Manuela Padilla, the mother, was a pastry chef who traveled the country updating restaurants on her company's latest recipes and cakes, Mejia said. She said her sister wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps, while her brother, a junior at Palomares Academy of Health Sciences, was interested in engineering.

By all accounts, the Padillas were friendly but private. Last year they finished remodeling the home — its new coat of paint stands out on the street — and added a waist-high brick wall lining the yard.

Mary Luna, whose son was friends with Juan Padilla, recalled the teen saying his big sister's boyfriend was "a little weird," but she didn't think much of it.

Luna said Manuela Padilla was going to make her a cake for Mother's Day — just the latest act of generosity from the woman. She had made Luna a cake for her niece and nephew's first Communion.

On Friday, Oscar Vargas, 26, the daughter's ex-boyfriend, stood alone in the middle of Ramsey Way looking at the house behind the police tape, with two empty coroner's stretchers outside the front door.

"They didn't deserve anything like this," he said softly, shaking his head.

Vargas said that he'd lost touch with the Padillas about two years ago when he and Maryann Padilla broke up, but that he'd never forget the family's generosity.

"She treated me like I was her own son. She was more of a mother to me than my mom ever was," he said. "They're all beautiful people."

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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