A man shot and killed his wife and five young children before taking his own life Tuesday, apparently out of despair after the couple lost their jobs at a hospital, the police and city officials said.
Officers responding to 911 calls placed by the man, Ervin A. Lupoe, and by a television station to which Lupoe had sent a fax around 8:30 a.m., found seven bodies in a house in Wilmington, a working-class neighborhood near the Port of Los Angeles.
A police spokesman said the bodies were identified as Lupoe; his wife, Ana; their 8-year-old daughter and two sets of twins (5-year-old girls and 2-year-old boys).
Lupoe had telephoned and sent a fax to KABC-TV that indicated “he was despondent over a job situation and he saw no reasonable way out,” said Lt. John Romero, a police spokesman.
The two-page, typewritten letter made clear he was going to kill his family and himself. The station quickly called 911 to report the letter and then posted it on the station Web site after the bodies were discovered.
The letter said Lupoe and his wife had worked as medical technicians at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in West Los Angeles, but recently lost their jobs after a dispute with an administrator.
The administrator, it said, had asked them on an unspecified day why they had come to work, and then added, “You should have blown your brains out.”
Two days after the confrontation, the letter said, the Lupoes lost their jobs and began planning their deaths and those of their children.
“Why leave the children to a stranger?” Lupoe said his wife had asked. “So, here we are,” he wrote.
Kaiser Permanente officials issued a statement confirming the couple had worked at their hospital in West Los Angeles but would not say when they had lost their jobs or provide other details. “We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of the Lupoe family,” the statement said.
Although the police are treating the case as a murder-suicide, Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner said the police were still sorting through a discrepancy.
Contrary to his fax and reported call to the television station, the man told a 911 operator he had arrived home and found his family dead, Garner said. But investigators found a revolver next to Ervin Lupoe’s body, the only weapon in the home, he said.
The police said they found the bodies of the three daughters next to their father in a front bedroom upstairs. The boys were with their mother in a back bedroom on the same floor.
“A man who recently lost his job allowed the despair to put him over the edge,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who held a news conference outside the house. “Unfortunately, this has been an all-too-common story in the last few months. But that does not and should not lead people to resort to desperate measures.”