Former boyfriend held in deadly LA-area shooting

A gunman with an assault rifle stormed his ex-girlfriend's California home early Thursday and shot four people, killing two of them, before a sheriff's deputy confronted and wounded the attacker.

The gunman burst in shortly before 4 a.m. and went room to room, killing his ex-girlfriend and her brother and critically wounding their parents while six others frantically fled the home, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.

"People jumped from windows and off the roof to escape," Undersheriff Larry Waldie said. "With those running out and the amount of shooting going on, he could have killed all 10 people."

Joseph Mercado, 27, was treated after a bullet grazed his head. He was taken to a local sheriff's station to be booked for investigation of murder, sheriff's homicide Lt. Don Slawson said.

Mercado brought a can of gasoline that he poured in and around the home, although it was unclear whether that occurred before or after the shooting, Slawson said.

"It appears that he may have tried to burn the house," Slawson said.

Slawson said two patrol deputies were driving through the neighborhood south of Los Angeles when they heard gunshots. They then got a report of a burglary that was quickly corrected to a report of shots being fired.

The deputies drove to the home on Devlin Avenue and saw a man with an assault rifle come outside, Slawson said.

He refused orders to drop the gun and turned toward a deputy, who fired two shots and slightly wounded him, Slawson said.

The gunman didn't fire and the deputy was not hurt, Slawson said.

Inside the home, authorities found two injured people and two bodies. The injured were hospitalized in critical condition.

Authorities did not immediately release the victims' names, but a relative identified the dead as Serena Tarin, 23, and her brother, Alfredo, 21.

The wounded were Serena's mother and father, Alfredo Sr. and Lucy, who were in their 50s, said Angelica Rosales, a cousin of the father.

Six other family members, including some children, climbed onto the roof through a second-story window to hide from the gunman, Slawson said.

"I believe if the deputies weren't there, we'd have a lot more deceased and the house would be burned to the ground," he said.

A neighbor, Javier Leon, said he had been working a night shift and had just returned to his home about two blocks from the shooting scene when he heard four shots.

"I turned on my TV, and then 'boom! boom! boom! boom!'" he said.

The gunman apparently was upset over breaking up with his girlfriend, Waldie told KTLA-TV.

Residents said there have been drive-by gang shootings but not an all-out attack in the modest neighborhood of small stucco and wood-framed homes.

Associated Press Writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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