Suspected murder-suicide leaves 4 dead in Clearlake

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CLEARLAKE — A man who was arrested twice this year on suspicion of domestic violence shot to death three of his children early Sunday before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

Police were called at 12:43 a.m. to Ricardo Garcia Lopez’s house on the 4700 block of Yarrington Court over shots being fired, Clearlake Police Sgt. Tim Hobbs said.

Lopez, 39, was outside the family’s mobile home and began shooting a firearm for unknown reasons as his 25-year-old wife fled to get help, Hobbs said. The woman, who wasn’t identified, called 911.

Officers found the couple’s four children inside a GMC Yukon parked in the driveway, Hobbs said. Three of the children — ages 9 months, 2 years and 4 years — died at the scene from gunshot wounds, while the other child, 5 years old, was alive despite being shot in the chest, he said.

Police gave medical aid to the injured child until paramedics arrived. The child was transported to Adventist Health Clear Lake and then flown to an out-of-county hospital.

The child was reported in stable condition Sunday, according to Hobbs.

Lopez, a laborer, was found dead in the driveway with a firearm and what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Hobbs said.

Detectives didn’t release the names of the children Sunday. They also didn’t offer a motive for the shooting.

Court records indicate Lopez recently had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Clearlake police arrested him March 10 on a felony complaint of infliction of corporal injury on a spouse. Lopez, a 5-foot-10 man who weighed 165 pounds, was later released, according to court records.

He was arrested again May 24 on a misdemeanor complaint of battery of a spouse, along with three felony complaints for failure to register as a sex offender, according to court records and Hobbs.

The status of the two recent court cases and the details of his sex offender conviction could not be determined as of Sunday night.

The home was located near the end of a dirt road cordoned off by a large wooden fence. It’s in a part of town where people keep mostly to themselves, according to nearby neighbor Eddie Williams.

Williams said he didn’t know the family but did remember when police arrested Lopez a few months ago.

“She called the cops. That’s the only time I ever met her,” Williams said about the wife.

Williams did not hear the gunshots Sunday, but found out about the shooting when he went to work around 7 a.m. and saw the police cars at the residence.

Anyone with information regarding this case should contact Clearlake Police detective Leonardo Flores at lflores@clearlakepd.org or 707-994-8251, ext. 315.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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