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Page last updated at 23:51 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

US man 'shoots wife and children'

US investigators in front of a house where a man allegedly shot dead his wife and five young children before killing himself in Wilmington, California, 27 January 2009
The bodies were found in a house in a southern Los Angeles suburb

A US man apparently distraught over job problems is thought to have shot dead his wife and five young children before turning the gun on himself.

The bodies were found in a house in the south Los Angeles suburb of Wilmington.

The man, identified as Ervin Lupoe, is believed to have killed his family after calling a local broadcaster and sending a fax about problems at work.

The broadcaster then alerted the police, who found the dead family and a revolver lying near the man's body.

Police could still smell the gunpowder residue when they found the bodies at around 0830 (1630 GMT) on Tuesday, a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) spokeswoman said.

Christmas Eve killings

In the fax sent to KABC-TV, the man allegedly claimed he and his wife had been fired from jobs as medical technicians and she suggested they kill their children and themselves.

Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner from Los Angeles Police on what is known about the deaths

"Why leave the children to a stranger?" the man wrote, according to KABC.

"We have no job and five children under eight years old with no place to go. So here we are," the fax continued.

"Oh lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow's son?" it concluded.

In Southern California's third family mass murder in six months, police said the child victims were twin two-year old boys, twin five-year-old girls and an 8-year-old girl.

No-one I know could understand what would drive anyone to take matters into their own hands in such a lethal manner
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

At a news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said it was difficult to understand what could trigger such violence.

"There is no way to comprehend this unspeakable act. I dare say that no-one I know could understand what would drive anyone to take matters into their own hands in such a lethal manner.

"According to many reports the man who committed this crime recently lost his job and allowed the desperation to put him over the edge. Unfortunately, this has become an all too common story in the last few months but that does not, and should not, lead people to resort to extreme measures. Help is available. Resources exist," the mayor said.

Last month, nine people died when a gunman dressed as Father Christmas stormed into the home of his former in-laws on Christmas Eve and shot his ex-wife and her family before torching the house and killing himself.

Two months earlier, a man shot his wife, three children and mother-in-law before killing himself, apparently because of financial troubles.

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