HAWAIIAN GARDENS — Armed with an assault rifle, a Montebello man allegedly killed a former girlfriend, her brother and her father today and critically wounded their mother before being shot by a sheriff's deputy at a home in Hawaiian Gardens.
Ten people were in the house at 21920 Devlin Ave. when the gunman, apparently motivated by a romantic dispute, barged in with a rifle and started shooting about 3:40 a.m., said Sgt. James Jobling of the sheriff's Lakewood Station.
Deputies on patrol heard the gunfire, confronted the suspect, 26-year-old Joseph Mercado, then shot and wounded him, said Deputy Aura Sierra of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau.
"As we arrived, we heard the shots on the street, so our deputy did a fantastic job, knew it was an automatic weapon -- it was an AK-47 -- pulled his AR-15, encountered the suspect on the street, fired two shots,'' Undersheriff Larry Waldie told KTLA-TV Channel 5.
The deputies ordered Mercado to drop the weapon, but he refused and turned toward the deputies. Sierra said that is when the deputy-involved shooting occurred.
"And then we went into the house to clear the house,'' Waldie said. "As we were clearing the house, about six more people jumped from the roof trying to get out of the house for fear ... ''
Serena Tarin, 25, and her brother, Alfredo Tarin Jr., 20, died at the scene, Sierra said. Their parents, Luciana and Alfredo Tarin Sr., were taken to hospitals in critical condition. Alfredo Tarin Sr. later died as a result of his injuries.
Gasoline had been poured on the side of the house and the house was partially burned, Sierra said. Authorities found a can of gasoline at the scene.
Mercado was taken to a hospital and treated for a minor gunshot wound then booked at Lakewood sheriff's station for suspicion murder and attempted murder. He is being held without bail.
"If not for the heroic actions of sheriff's deputies, this tragedy would likely have been worse,'' Waldie said.