A deputy city attorney shot and killed his wife and son Wednesday morning at their suburban Northridge home before killing himself, authorities confirmed in an evening news release.
About 9 a.m., the Los Angeles Police Department responded to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon with shots fired in the 9600 block of Vanalden Avenue.
When officers arrived, they found three people dead in the home and a lone survivor across the street at a neighbor’s home, according to the LAPD.
Authorities said Eric Lertzman, 60, shot and killed his wife, Sandra, 60, in their master bedroom. He then walked across the hall and tried to shoot another woman, whom neighbors described as his daughter. She escaped and locked herself in the hallway bathroom, according to police.
Lertzman then shot and killed his 19-year-old son, Michael. During this time, the daughter escaped through the bathroom window and ran to a neighbor’s home. Lertzman went back into the master bedroom and killed himself, according to the LAPD. Detectives have recovered two guns at the scene.
“The motive behind this tragic murder-suicide is still under investigation, but investigators believe the recent loss of a loved one and ongoing health issues played a significant role,” the LAPD said in a news release Wednesday evening.
On Michael Lertzman’s Instagram page, he’d posted two weeks ago about his grandmother, Phyllis Lertzman, passing away. She died Aug. 26, according to her obituary. Eric Lertzman was one of her three sons, according to the obituary.
On Wednesday afternoon, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office released a statement confirming that Deputy City Atty. Eric Lertzman, who joined the office in 2005, was involved in the incident.
“This is a horrible tragedy,” Feuer said in the statement. “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.”
Neighbors told KABC-TV Channel 7 that a father shot his wife and son, but that his daughter managed to escape through a bathroom window and call police.
Neighbor Greg Demos told the Daily News that the woman ran to his home in her pajamas and said her father had tried to shoot her.
“[She was] in her pajamas, her sleeping attire, upset, confused, distraught, somewhat in shock, seemed like a little bit embarrassed, [and] said, ‘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 told the paper. “She said, ‘My dad took a shot at me, and my mom and my brother are still inside.’”
On social media, many of Michael Lertzman’s friends posted about the young man’s warmth and kindness.
“Michael was a shining light in our community, who always had a smile on his face and brought joy to all of his brothers and anyone who met him,” Alan Dreiman, president of the Cal State Northridge chapter of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Camp Alonim, a program of the American Jewish University in Brandeis, posted about how Michael was a longtime camper and staff member.
“Mikey’s personal warmth, his gentle spirit, his wide smile and his infectious enthusiasm will never be forgotten,” the post reads. “He will always be a beloved member of our Camp Alonim family. We send our deepest condolences to his sister, Rachel (CIT ’10), and the many people whose lives Mikey touched.”
Times staff writer Nicole Santa Cruz and the Associated Press contributed to this report.