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Suspect in murder-suicide called brother before entering Pomona home

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Pomona murder-suicide suspect called own brother minutes before the attack, police say
Phone call to brother left insufficient time for police, family to react to prevent murder-suicide

The suspected shooter who gunned down a Pomona family overnight Thursday before turning the gun on himself called his own brother before carrying out the murder-suicide, but gave only a few minutes' advance warning, police said.

When the 28-year-old live-in boyfriend of one of the victims was done, his girlfriend, her mother and teen brother were dead before anyone could intervene, Pomona police Lt. Mike Keltner said.

“It was within a few minutes, and unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for either the family or police to respond," he said.

The family's sole surviving member, April Mejia, identified the victims as her mother, Manuela Padilla, 52; sister, Mariana Padilla, 25; and 17-year-old brother, Juan.

Though there were no signs of struggle, investigators believe two of the victims were awake when they were confronted, including the daughter, who was found next to the boyfriend, Keltner said. One of the victims was still in bed, he added.

"This could've happened within 30 seconds easily," Keltner said.

The suspect, who was not immediately identified by police, was out of work and not going to school, said Mejia. Her family moved from El Monte into the single-family home in 2001, she added. The boyfriend had been living with her sister at the house for about three years.

For months, her mother, Manuela Padilla, had tried to force him out, contending he was a deadbeat.

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

Keltner noted that police had no record of responding to the home prior to Thursday.

Neighbors described the family as friendly, but quiet, improving what had otherwise been a rundown house with a new brick wall, fresh paint and new windows.

Mary Luna, 45, said her son, Daniel, was friends with Juan at the Polomares Academy of Health Sciences. The teen never divulged much about family life, she said, although she recalled that he did mention that his sister's boyfriend "was a little weird."

"It didn't seem relevant at the time," Luna said. 

Leonardo Piña, 38, lives down the street and described hearing at least four or five gunshots around 11 p.m.

He said that while the neighborhood was accustomed to violent crime, the apparent murder-suicide was a jolt to residents who described the family as being quiet but friendly.

“We’re used to drug stuff and gang crimes, but not a murder-suicide," Piña said. "This is something different, it’s horrible.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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