INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A man found dead at the property where five members of a Southern California family were shot — two fatally — was believed to be the attacker because he was wearing body armor and clutching a handgun, police said.
The loaded handgun was a .38 caliber revolver registered to 55-year-old Desmond John Moses. Inglewood police say Moses set his backyard bungalow ablaze before spraying bullets at his neighbors.
Investigators suspect Moses blamed the young family who lived in the front house for an eviction notice he had received from their landlord.
The dead man had "what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head," wore body armor and carried additional ammunition in his pockets when it was found late Saturday, a police statement said.
While police couldn't conclude that the body is that of Moses until an autopsy is concluded, "the evidence suggests this is the case," the statement added.
The shooting rampage before dawn Saturday killed 33-year-old Filimon Lamas and his 4-year-old son. The father was shielding three of his children when he was shot, Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said. Lamas' 28-year-old wife, Gloria Jiminez, was shot in both legs but managed to carry the wounded 4-year-old out of the house.
Paramedics found her collapsed on the street. The child, who was shot in the head, died at a hospital.
Investigators believe Moses entered the family's home around 4 a.m. wearing a dark cap and a white painter's mask.
Authorities said he fired 10 times, also wounding a 7-year-old girl in the chest and a 6-year-old boy in the pelvis. An 8-year-old boy escaped injury.
The mother and daughter remained hospitalized in stable condition, Lt. James Madia said. The 6-year-old boy was released.
Relatives told the Los Angeles Times that Lamas and Jiminez were high school sweethearts who recently got approval for a home loan, and were looking to buy a bigger house for their tight-knit family.
Authorities launched a manhunt and evacuated surrounding homes after the shooting rampage, but it wasn't until hours later that they found the charred body because it was hidden under layers of debris.
"He was kind of a hoarder or pack rat," Madia said.
Moses lived in the bungalow for 17 years, while the family lived in the front house for 8 years, he said.
The landlord told the Times that Moses had been fighting an eviction notice and recently lost his case in court.
The newspaper reported Sunday that Moses has held a security guard registration with the California Department of Consumer Affairs since 1984. However, police said they did not know whether he was working as a security guard.