LOS ANGELES - A FATHER apparently upset over the loss of his job shot dead his wife and five young children before killing himself, police said on Tuesday.
A Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) spokeswoman said the family of seven was found dead at a home in the suburb of Wilmington south of Los Angeles at around 8.30am.
Police believe the man killed his family and then committed suicide. The identities of the dead have not been released.
'Right now we're investigating as if the father killed his wife and five kids and then turned the revolver on himself and killed himself,' LAPD Deputy Chief Ken Garner told KFWB radio.
Mr Garner said police were originally contacted by a local television station, which apparently received a telephone call and a fax from a man saying he was going to kill his family and himself.
Mr Garner said the fax indicated the man may have recently lost his job at a west Los Angeles hospital run by US health care group Kaiser Permanente.
'He was despondent over his job situation,' Mr Garner said. 'He was going through some critical situation at the job ... and that's what prompted him to take his own life and his family, from what was said in the fax letter.'
The dead included an eight-year-old girl, five-year-old twin girls and two-year-old twin boys.
'It was a grisly scene,' Mr Garner said. 'I've been on the police department for 32 years and I've never seen anything like this ... it's horrific. It's a tragedy,' he added.
A statement from Kaiser Permanente confirmed the dead man and his wife were former employees.
'Our sympathies are with all of their extended family and friends at this time,' the statement said. 'We are also providing resources and support to our employees who are affected by this tragedy.' The Los Angeles region has seen several high-profile mass shootings in recent months.
In December, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus stormed into the home of his former in-laws on Christmas Eve and opened fire on his ex-wife and her family before setting the house alight.
Nine people were killed in the rampage before the gunman took his own life.
Last October, a 45-year-old man shot his wife, three children and mother-in-law before killing himself, reportedly because of financial woes.
After the latest killing, the LAPD's Garner urged people to use community programs and help lines if they are unable to cope with financial problems.
'That would be our hope - that people would seek that guidance, seek that assistance rather than taking this route, which is not the way to go,' Mr Garner said. 'It's clearly not the way to go.' -- AFP