A Panorama City man barricaded himself in his home for six hours Monday before shooting his 11-month-old son to death and then turning the gun on himself, Los Angeles police said.
The 32-year-old man, whose name was not released, took his infant son and wife hostage in their home in the 8300 block of Costello Avenue about 2:30 p.m. Police said the man was apparently despondent after arguing with his wife.
"The husband and wife had words about a possible breakup and at some point the husband armed himself with a handgun and made statements that he would shoot himself and his son," Police Capt. Gus Drulias said.
After holding her captive for an hour, the man freed his wife, who flagged down a passing police patrol car, Drulias said.
Officers cordoned off the street and evacuated neighboring homes while members of the Police Department's Hostage Negotiation Team spoke with the man by telephone from a house a few doors away. Police negotiators described the man as intelligent and articulate.
Drulias said that the man apparently did not want to be separated from his son as the result of the impending breakup with his wife.
At one point during the standoff, police said they were optimistic that the man would not carry out the threats to kill the child.
"We don't really think we're going to have any violence," Drulias told reporters at one point. "We think he's very attached to this little boy."
But the standoff ended about 8:35 p.m., when the man suddenly stopped talking with police, dropping the phone. A few seconds later, shots were heard. Officers then entered and found the bodies of the man and his son in a bathroom. Both had been shot in the head.
"We had hoped we were making progress," Drulias said. "He became despondent for whatever reason and ended up taking his life and the life of his child."
According to neighbors, the man's parents and brother arrived at the scene to talk to him, but were prevented from doing so by police.
"We did everything we could to try to get the police to let (the parents) talk to him," said a resident of nearby Colbath Avenue who did not wish to be identified. "(The parents) were lovely people. It just wasn't fair."
Police had no immediate comment.