INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Police searched for a gunman who wore a painter's mask when he set fire to a home before going on a shooting spree early Saturday, killing a father and his 4-year-old son and injuring a woman and two other young children near Los Angeles.
A SWAT team set up a perimeter and was using dogs to search for the attacker, who may have lived in a rear house on the property, Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said.
Five neighboring houses in Inglewood were evacuated as officers searched residences and the trunks of cars. Other nearby residents were told to remain inside with their doors locked. The suspect was described as armed and dangerous.
Investigators were trying to determine whether he fled or remained in the house as it burned.
The man wore a painter's mask apparently to shield his identity, Fronterotta said.
The gunman had known the family for at least eight years, according to Capt. Tom Richards of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Television footage showed a home gutted by flames and a plume of smoke rising over the residential neighborhood early Saturday.
Detectives determined the suspect set the house ablaze at about 4 a.m. before opening fire with a weapon, Fronterotta said. Earlier the chief said the blaze was started after the gun attack.
The 28-year-old woman, said to be the children's mother, was being treated for gunshot wounds. She was in critical condition, as was a 6-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the pelvis and a 7-year-old girl with a gunshot wound to the chest, according to a department statement.
After being shot, the mother carried the wounded 4-year-old to a neighbor's yard.
"This extraordinary rescue attempt by the mother occurred in spite of the fact that she had gunshot wounds to both legs," the statement said.
The 30-year-old father was shielding two of his children when he was shot, the chief said. He died in surgery, as did the 4-year-old boy.
An 8-year-old boy was uninjured.
Police have no motive. But a neighbor, Judy Castellanos, told the Los Angeles Times that the suspect lived in one of three units on the property and described him as "really weird" and "dangerous." She said he had not paid his rent for years and that a new property owner had been trying to evict him.
"He had been asked to leave by the end of this month," Castellanos told the newspaper, adding that he was reclusive and would not let anyone look inside his home. Castellanos, who said her daughter is related to the man who was killed, did not give the suspect's name.