A Los Angeles deputy city attorney shot and killed his wife and son before turning the gun on himself at the family's Northridge home on Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Eric Lertzman, his wife Sandra Lertzman, and their 19-year-old son Michael Lertzman were found dead inside the home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Officers were dispatched to the 9600 block of Vanalden Avenue around 9 a.m. after receiving a call of a shooting in progress, according to Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Mike Kozak said.
When they arrived at the house, officers located three victims, all deceased, according to Kozak. The victims all had gunshot wounds.
A fourth person inside the home – a woman in her 20s – managed to escape and was uninjured, the lieutenant said.
Greg Demos, who lives nearby, told KTLA the woman ran out of the home in her pajamas and said that her father had tried to shoot her.
She appeared “upset, confused, distraught, somewhat in shock" and even a "little bit embarrassed" as she recounted the ordeal to him.
"‘I don’t know what to tell you, Greg, but this is what just happened in my house, and I don’t know what to do,'" Demos recalled her telling him. "She said, 'My dad took a shot at me, and my mom and my brother are still inside.'"
Police recovered at least two handguns at the scene, according to LAPD.
"The investigation ultimately revealed that 60-year-old Eric Lertzman, had shot and killed his wife Sandra in their master-bedroom," the LAPD said in a statement issued Wednesday night.
The man then walked across the hallway and tried to shoot his adult daughter, according to police, but she managed to escape by locking herself in a bathroom.
"Eric then shot and killed his 19-year-old son, Michael," the statement said.
The young woman who was hiding in the bathroom managed to climb out a window and seek help from a neighbor, police said.
"Eric returned to the master-bedroom where he turned the weapon on himself, ending his own life," according to the statement.
Investigators are trying to determine a motive for the murder-suicide, but they believe on-going health issues as well as the recent loss of a loved one were a significant factor, according to LAPD.
City Attorney Mike Feuer said Eric Lertzman had been with the the office since 2005.
“This is a horrible tragedy,” Feuer said. “As we search for answers to how this could happen, we mourn the victims and envelop those left behind with our love during this time of unbearable loss. Of course we will provide members of our City Attorney Family with needed counseling and support.”
Northridge resident Bob Nolan told KTLA that the husband and wife had lived at the home for about 40 years.
Nolan, who himself has lived in the neighborhood since 1963, said he heard sirens and a helicopter overhead and walked outside to see what was happening. When he got near the family's home, he found it surrounded with first responders.
“They said there was a man with a gun, but they didn’t know what was going on yet. So, we sat and watched until they came back out and said that all three were down," Nolan said.
The neighborhood is typically "very quiet," according to Nolan.
“This is something that’s very unusual for this area," he said.
KTLA's Jennifer Thang and Brian Day contributed to this story.
Correction: A previous version of this story provided an incorrect date for the shooting. This story has been updated.