LOS ANGELES — A medical technician fatally shot his wife, five young children and himself Monday after claiming in a note to a TV station that he and his wife both had just been fired. Police urged those facing tough economic times to get help rather than resort to violence.
“Today our worst fear was realized,” Los Angeles Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner said. “It’s just not a solution. There’s just so many ways you find alternatives to doing something so horrific and drastic as this.”
Ervin Antonio Lupoe and his wife, Ana, also a medical technician, worked at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center West Los Angeles, the hospital said.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of the Lupoe family,” it said in a statement.
In the letter he faxed to a TV station, Ervin Lupoe claimed he and his wife both had been fired and that she suggested they kill themselves and their children, too.
“Why leave the children to a stranger?” the man wrote, according to KABC-TV.
Although the fax asserted that the woman was involved, police Lt. John Romero said Lupoe was the suspect in the murders.
KABC reported that the man claimed in the fax that a medical center administrator rebuffed them when they showed up to work, told them to file a union grievance and said, “You should have blown your brains out.”
Lupoe wrote that they filed a grievance but nothing was done and two days later they were fired, KABC said.
“They did nothing to the manager who started such and did not attempt to assist us in the matter, knowing we have no job and five children under 8 years old with no place to go. So here we are,” the note said.
At the bottom of the note, Lupoe wrote, “Oh lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow’s son?”
The Kaiser Permanente statement made no comment on the claims in Lupoe’s fax. Police described the fax but did not release the detail reported by KABC.
“He was going through some critical situations at the job, that’s what he described in that two-page letter, ongoing problems at the job, and that’s what prompted him to take his own life and his family’s, from what was said in the fax letter,” Garner said.
Police said the child victims were an 8-year-old girl, twin 5-year-old girls and twin 2-year-old boys. Their names were not released. Lupoe’s Web page on the Facebook social networking site showed smiling photos of the children.
The TV station called police after receiving the fax, and a police communications center also received a call from a man who stated, “’I just returned home and my whole family’s been shot,”’ Garner said.
“There is a disconnect but we believe our suspect is the one who called,” Garner said.
Officers rushed to the two-story home in Wilmington, near the sprawling twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, shortly before 8:30 a.m., apparently within minutes of the killings. Garner said the officers could still smell the gunshot residue and a revolver was found by the man’s body.
The bodies of the girls and the father were in an upstairs bedroom. The mother and boys were in a bedroom downstairs.
The two-story home, much larger than its one-story neighbors, sits in front of a railroad track in Wilmington, a small community about 18 miles south of downtown. A children’s playset stood in the backyard.
Retired truck driver Jaime Solache, who lives a few doors down, said many of these newer, larger homes in the neighborhood had gone into foreclosure. The Lupoe house, which has a sign hanging above the driveway reading “The Lupoe’s Pad,” is about 6 years old, Solache said.
News of the killings sent shivers through the community, and several neighbors came to the yellow police tape to watch a steady procession of officials enter and leave the home.
“This area right here is quiet, calm,” said Armando Chacon, who lives one block north. “People like to sit out at weekends and barbecue. Other than this, no problems at all.”
A community meeting was planned later Tuesday in a local church.
It was the fifth mass death of a Southern California family by murder or suicide in a year.
On Dec. 24, a man dressed up as Santa Claus invaded a Christmas Eve party at his ex-wife’s parents’ home in suburban Covina. His ex-wire and eight of her relatives died from gunshots or in the house fire he set. The man later killed himself.
In October, an unemployed financial manager despairing over extreme money problems shot and killed his wife, three children, mother-in-law and himself in their home in the Porter Ranch area of the San Fernando Valley.
In June, five members of a Turkish-American family, clad in black, were found dead in an upscale home in San Clemente. Investigators say it was apparently a suicide pact but the reason is a mystery.