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Shooting deaths of Fontana family may be murder-suicide, police say

Police in Fontana are investigating the shooting deaths of four family members, including two children, who were found inside their home by a relative Monday night as a possible murder-suicide.

The relative, who hadn't heard from the family, made the grisly discovery about 8:30 p.m. after going to the home, said Martha Guzman-Hurtado, a Fontana police spokeswoman. In the home were the bodies of a man and a woman, both between 30 and 35 years old, as well as a 12-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy. Their identities have yet to be released by the coroner.

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The woman and the children each had multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said, and the man had a single gunshot wound to the head. Guzman-Hurtado said investigators were looking into the likelihood that it was a murder-suicide.

Police said there was not a documented history of domestic troubles at the home: The address shows up just once in the department records, for a code enforcement call in 2010.

In the neighborhood of tidy and modest homes, where many neighbors said they had moved to avoid the crime of places such as Compton and El Monte, waking up to find police tape and a coroner's van came as a surprise.

"It's horrific!" said Juan Moreno, 33, a forklift operator who moved to a home down the street nine years ago. "It's mind-boggling .... You don't touch the kids."

Some said the street can be busy. It's often used as a shortcut to avoid a clogged thoroughfare a few blocks over. But, residents said, it's safe and quiet.

Antonio Elliott, 48, raised his four children here, moving to the neighborhood 14 years ago from Compton. He called it a "beautiful place to raise a family."

He said he wanted to "give my boys a chance .... Let them be free from all the gangs, the peer pressure." Although the deaths appeared to be a domestic matter -- an "isolated incident," he called it -- Elliott still said he feels "like I want to move farther out to the country."

Standing on a sidewalk looking at the unusually chaotic scene, Elliott couldn't help but become emotional. He felt sympathy for the relatives of those killed. It reminded him of his own loss: His son, his namesake, was killed in a violent motorcycle accident over the summer.

"Go to church -- find a home and build a relationship with God," he said. "It's what's bringing me through it right now."

Joining him on the sidewalk were clusters of neighbors, starring down the block beyond the police line, though little had happened for hours.

David Harris and his wife, Amy, dressed in her nursing scrubs, had walked down the block with their twin sons, Davante and Daprie.

Amy, 33, had been there earlier, watching as the bodies were carried out of the home. Almost instinctively, she recited the Lord's Prayer.

"That's the first thing that came out of my mouth," she said. "God's our only hope."

They said the children who were killed had played with neighborhood kids. The boy and girl were often seen cruising down Palmetto on their scooters and skateboards.

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Davante, 11, was in the same after-school program with the girl. She was friendly, David Harris said, and liked to tell jokes. She was also the one who would always volunteer to help the staff members at the program with chores.

"She cared about people," he said.

The children would play house, with the girl taking on the role of the mom or sister, or even the baby. Davante said he had played the pet, pretending to wear a leash. The family laughed. It would probably be the only time they'll laugh this day, Amy Harris said.

"It's crazy and sad," she said.

Her son added softly, "Especially if she's your friend."

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rick.rojas@latimes.com
Twitter: @rar
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