Police detain 1, seek motive in LA family shooting

Business owner Dean Wright, 82, pauses outside his neighbor's family-owned business, United States Fire Protection Services, in Downey, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Business owner Dean Wright, 82, pauses outside his neighbor's family-owned business, United States Fire Protection Services, in Downey, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

DOWNEY, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a man held for questioning matches the description of a gunman who killed three people and critically wounded two others at a family-owned fire extinguisher business and a relative's nearby home in suburban Los Angeles.

The man was one of four people detained and questioned Thursday, Downey Police Lt. Dean Milligan said. The other three, two men and a woman, were released after detectives determined they had no connection to the shootings, which left friends and neighbors grappling for answers as authorities remained mum about a motive.

The gunman doesn't appear to be a former employee, friend or family member of the victims, Milligan said. Police, however, said they don't believe the killings were a random act of violence.

Authorities also recovered a stolen black Chevrolet Camaro, which they say the attacker used to get away after the shootings.

Milligan identified the three people who were killed as Josimar Rojas, 26, Irene Cardenas, 35, and Susana Perez-Ruelas, 34.

Rojas and Cardenas were killed at the business, United States Fire Protection Services Inc., where another woman was wounded, the Los Angeles Times reported. She remains in stable condition.

The gunman then went to the home of the business owner a few blocks away and killed Perez-Ruelas and wounded her 13-year-old son.

A portrait began to emerge Thursday of a tight-knit family who threw large parties and ran a successful company.

Prayer candles and flowers were left at the home and nearby business where the shootings took place. A sign decorated with pink hearts and flowers was left outside the house, reading "RIP Susana, to a great mother."

Workers returned to the industrial strip where the first shots were fired at the small family-owned fire extinguisher company.

"This is absolutely heartbreaking," said Dean Wright, who owns the septic supply business next door. "The guy who did this had to be absolutely crazy."

Richard Mercado, 36, a family friend, said he grew up with the two brothers who ran U.S. Fire Protection, which sells professional firefighting gear and equipment.

Property records show the business is owned by Robert Salinas, 35, and the house is owned by Antonio Salinas, 34. Attempts to reach anyone at either location were unsuccessful and others associated with the family refused to talk when reached by phone.

Mercado said the siblings made a lot of money with the business and that they also liked to buy and sell motorcycles and cars.

"If they saw money to be made they would invest in it," Mercado said. "They always had extra money."

Police said the deadly encounter began around midday Wednesday and that someone called from the business to reporting a shooting.

A few minutes after police arrived, a 13-year-old boy called dispatchers from the family house just down the street, authorities said, where the second shooting happened.

A female secretary and a male employee were killed at the business, according to Wright. At the family's home, the shooter killed the wife of one of the brothers, he said.

The woman and teenager were originally at the business, but somehow got to the home in the Camaro before being shot, according to police. Police don't know whether they drove themselves or were kidnapped by the suspect.

There was no sign of forced entry at either location and police believe the suspect spoke with the victims at both locations before the shooting began. The teen victim, however, did not recognize the gunman, Milligan has said.

The house is a duplex facing foreclosure in a process that began last December, according to real estate records. The property was scheduled to be auctioned Nov. 26 with an asking price of about $837,000.

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press video journalist Raquel Maria Dillon in Downey; and staff writers Robert Jablon, Gillian Flaccus, Brian Melley and Shaya Tayefe Mohajer in Los Angeles.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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