2 Found Dead, Including Woman Who Was Fatally Shot, After House Fire in Hawthorne: LASD

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Two people died after a home in Hawthorne erupted in flames on Friday, including a woman who was found shot to death, authorities said.

The L.A. County Fire Department tweeted this photo of a house fire they responded to in Hawthorne on Dec. 16, 2016.
The L.A. County Fire Department tweeted this photo of a house fire they responded to in Hawthorne on Dec. 16, 2016.

A passing motorist first reported seeing smoke coming from a residence in the 13200 block of Jefferson Avenue around noon, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lt. Steve Jauch.

The Los Angeles County Fire and Hawthorne Police departments responded to the scene, where firefighters forced entry to the home, Jauch said.

When firefighters got inside, they found an unresponsive man in the bathroom and a woman in the living room. Firefighters rescued the female victim from the house and attempted to perform live-saving measures on her, but she died at the scene, according to the lieutenant.

Fire personnel told sheriff's investigators that the woman appeared to have been shot in the head, Jauch said. He added that the Sheriff's Department has not yet confirmed the gunshot location.

The man was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A cause of death has not yet been determined for either the woman or the man.

Authorities have also not identified the deceased, and it was unclear whether they resided at the house. But according to neighbors, the two were a mother in her 90s and son his in 70s who had lived there for years.

Gabriel Villafana said he has lived near the family for 20 years and was saddened by the incident.

"He would always walk his dogs in the morning and in the afternoon," he said. "And the lady, she was friendly with my kids. She would always come out and give them candy."

Neighbors indicated that the man's huskies were found safe in a nearby vehicle with its windows cracked.

A second neighbor, Malcolm Pride, said the woman "was always filled with so much spirit and good energy" and "such a delight to be around."

Pride was present as authorities responded to the incident and described a disturbing scene.

"Her clothes were burned and her legs were burned," Pride said of the woman's injuries. "Her feet were burned, and it was like she was disintegrating right before our eyes."

Firefighters attempted to resuscitate the man for 10 minutes before wheeling him out on a stretcher, Pride said, adding that "his face was just filled with so much black smoke."

Both neighbors indicated that something about the son had changed in the past few weeks and he had been acting strangely.

"Like mental issues and all kinds of stuff," Villafana said. "That’s when we started noticing he didn’t walk his dogs as much and he wouldn’t even talk to us like before."

Police had been called to the home a few weeks ago for a domestic violence issue, neighbors said.

Firefighters were able to knock down the flames, which caused extensive fire damage to a large portion of the home, according to Jauch.

The preliminary indication was that the fire was intentionally set, he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Anonymous tips can also be left by calling LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this story. 

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