California father shoots his three children dead before killing himself in apparent murder-suicide

A Clearlake father fatally shot his three children before turning the gun on himself early Sunday in an apparent murder-suicide, authorities said.

                            California father shoots his three children dead before killing himself in apparent murder-suicide
(Source:Getty Images)

A father of four went on a shooting spree outside his residence last weekend, killing three of his children before turning the gun on himself, law enforcement authorities said.

Officers found three of the children -- aged 9 months, 2 years, and 4 years -- dead from apparent gunshot wounds in an SUV outside their home in Clearlake, California. A fourth child, age 5 years, was also found shot in the chest and taken to hospital.

Clearlake police reported Monday that shortly after midnight on Sunday, dispatch received a call from the children's mother saying that Ricardo Garcia Lopez, the father, was firing a gun.

When officers responded to the call, they found 39-year-old Lopez dead on his driveway with a firearm and an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to reports, he worked as a laborer in Clearlake, which is about 110 miles north of San Francisco. He was previously arrested in March and May on domestic violence complaints and barred from owning a firearm.

Clearlake Police Sgt. Tim Hobbs said in a statement that the children were discovered in an SUV parked outside the house. 

The statement further mentioned that the injured fourth child was still breathing and was rushed to a hospital nearby in stable condition, reported ABC 7.

That said, Clearlake police did not immediately release copies of the 911 call or identify the children's mother. They are also yet to confirm what kind of firearm was used by Lopez in the crime and how he obtained it. However, it was evident that they were familiar with the criminal.

“Clearlake Police detectives responded to the location and are in the process of investigating the circumstances that led to this tragic incident,” Hobbs said.

According to records from the Lake County Sheriff's office and the Lake County Superior Court, Lopez was released March 10 on a $10,000 bail after being arrested on a felony charge of "inflicting corporal injury on a spouse".

Court clerk Luanne Hayes said that he was sentenced to three years of probation and barred from possessing a firearm after he pleaded guilty to battery on a non-cohabitating partner. She added that the court had also issued a restraining order against the individual.

On May 24, authorities arrested Lopez once again on a misdemeanor complaint of spousal battery. He was later released, this time on a $25,000 bail.

He, however, failed to show up for his scheduled arraignment in July, prompting the police to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.

According to sheriff records from his May arrest, Lopez was also facing three charges of failure to register as a sex offender. The court said that details of the sex offender case did not appear to stem from Lake County and were not immediately available for review.

Any further information pertaining to the case can be passed on to Detective Leonardo Flores at 707-994-8251, Extension 315, or by email at [email protected]