Authorities and witnesses say a Los Angeles deputy city attorney killed his wife and son in their Northridge home Wednesday but that his daughter was able to escape before he took his own life.
Los Angeles police are investigating the violence involving Eric Lertzman, 60, a veteran city attorney. The attack stunned the city attorney’s office, where Lertzman had worked for five years.
Authorities said they do not know why Eric Lertzman opened fire, “but investigators believe the recent loss of a loved one and ongoing health issues played a significant role,” the LAPD said in a news release Wednesday evening.
“This is a horrible tragedy,” City Atty. Mike Feuer said in a statement. “As we search for answers to how this could happen, we mourn the victims and envelop those left behind with our love during this time of unbearable loss. Of course we will provide members of our city attorney family with needed counseling and support.”
Here is what we know about the case:
How did the shooting unfold?
About 9 a.m., the LAPD responded to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon with shots fired in the 9600 block of Vanalden Avenue.
When officers arrived, they found three people dead in the home and a lone survivor across the street at a neighbor’s home, according to police.
Authorities said Lertzman shot and killed his wife, Sandra, 60, in their master bedroom. He then walked across the hall and tried to shoot another woman, whom neighbors described as his daughter. She escaped and locked herself in the hallway bathroom, according to police.
Lertzman then shot and killed his 19-year-old son, Michael. During that time, his daughter escaped through the bathroom window and ran to a neighbor’s home, authorities said. Lertzman went back into the master bedroom and killed himself, according to the LAPD. Detectives recovered two guns at the home.
Neighbor Greg Demos told the Daily News that the woman ran to his home in her pajamas and said her father had tried to shoot her.
“[She was] in her pajamas, her sleeping attire, upset, confused, distraught, somewhat in shock, seemed like a little bit embarrassed, [and] said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, Greg, but this is what just happened in my house, and I don’t know what to do,’” Demos told the paper. “She said, ‘My dad took a shot at me, and my mom and my brother are still inside.’”
What do we know about Lertzman?
On Michael Lertzman’s Instagram page, he posted two weeks ago about the death of his grandmother, Phyllis Lertzman. She died Aug. 26, according to her obituary. Eric Lertzman was one of her three sons, according to the obituary.
On social media, many of Michael Lertzman’s friends posted about the young man’s warmth and kindness.
“Michael was a shining light in our community, who always had a smile on his face and brought joy to all of his brothers and anyone who met him,” Alan Dreiman, president of the Cal State Northridge chapter of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Camp Alonim, a program of the American Jewish University-Brandeis Bardin Campus in Simi Valley, posted about how Michael was a longtime camper and staff member.
“Mikey’s personal warmth, his gentle spirit, his wide smile and his infectious enthusiasm will never be forgotten,” the post reads. “He will always be a beloved member of our Camp Alonim family. We send our deepest condolences to his sister, Rachel (CIT ’10), and the many people whose lives Mikey touched.”