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2 children among 4 dead in SE Fresno murder-suicide

The cordoned-off Silver Lake Apartments unit is seen
at right, where four people were found shot to death
early Sunday. A boy, 3, and an 18-month-old girl were
among the slain.
Fresno police were trying Sunday to unravel a tragic mystery at a southeast Fresno apartment complex: What led to the shooting deaths of four people in a spree that ended with the mother of two of the young victims killing herself as police were at the door.

A disturbance call at 6:44 a.m. Sunday led officers to a man with a stab wound just outside a ground-floor unit at the Silver Lake Apartments on East Belmont Avenue, near Clovis Avenue, police Capt. Dennis Bridges said.

As officers provided aid to the man, they learned that children were inside the apartment, Bridges said. Officers at the front door were weighing whether to enter the apartment when they heard a single gunshot inside.

That's when they rushed in and found a woman in her 20s, who they believe is the stabbing victim's wife, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Bridges said. The couple's two children, an 18-month-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, also were found with fatal gunshot wounds.

In the kitchen, police found a man in his 20s or 30s also shot to death. Police did not reveal his relationship to the family, or say where the mother and her children were found in the apartment. Police did not identify the victims.

The injured man, whose age was not known, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was reported in critical condition. One neighbor, Jaime Sosa, said the man appeared to be alert when paramedics were treating him.

Bridges said investigators were trying to determine what happened -- and why.

Police investigators gather outside the Silver Lake Apartments unit where four people were found shot to death early Sunday, at 5445 E. Belmont Ave.
Police investigators gather outside the Silver Lake
 Apartments unit where four people were found
shot to death early Sunday, at 5445 E. Belmont Ave.
"We're investigating to determine exactly how the children and the adult male died and the circumstances around the man suffering from a stab wound," Bridges said. Police said they expected to release more information today.

Bridges did not know whether there was a history of domestic violence calls or other disturbances at the apartment in the past.

Neighbors, though, said they had not seen or heard of any problems at that apartment.

The couple, their two children and the woman's cousin had lived in the apartment for about four years, neighbors said.

The gated apartment complex has manicured lawns, mature trees and a play area for children in the rear of the complex where the family lived.

Residents of Silver Lake Apartments, said to be neighbors
 of the four people who were found shot to death early
Sunday, grieve Sunday afternoon at the nearby complex playground, where the slain children were said to play.
Fresno police have not yet identified the victims.
Neighbors say the family kept to themselves, but the father and his children often were seen playing on the small playground.

About a dozen people waited behind police tape at 4 p.m. to watch investigators remove the bodies from the first-floor apartment. Red icicle lights still hung from the front awning and on a side bush.

Resident Eric Gonzalez watched in disbelief. He didn't know the family well, but ran into the husband several times in the laundry room or in passing on the apartment grounds.

"They were nice people," Gonzalez said. "The husband and wife seemed like they were in love with each other."

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