4 California murder-suicide victims shot in head

By Gosia Wozniacka

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 17 2012 1:51 p.m. MST

FRESNO, Calif. — The four family members involved in an apparent murder-suicide at a Central California apartment all died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to preliminary autopsy results released Tuesday.

The woman who shot her two children, their father and a cousin before committing suicide took video of herself on her iPad as she smoked methamphetamine prior to the killings, authorities said.

The children's father and only survivor, Eduardo Lopez, 33, remains hospitalized in serious condition, said Mary Lisa Russell, spokeswoman for Community Regional Medical Center.

Lopez was inside the Fresno apartment arguing with his girlfriend, Aide Mendez, 23, when she began her attack Sunday, police said.

Police arrived to find Lopez outside the Silver Lakes Apartment with knife and gunshot wounds, said Lt. Mark Salazar, homicide commander for the Fresno Police Department.

Officers heard a muffled shot from inside the first-floor apartment and discovered Mendez had killed herself, her boyfriend's cousin, Paul Medina, 27, as well as her two children, 17-month-old Aliyah Echeverria and Isaiah Echeverria, 3.

A 7-year-old neighbor girl who was in the apartment escaped unharmed.

Police told The Fresno Bee that Mendez was found in the bathroom, and the children were found in the apartment's bathtub.

Drugs played a role in the killing, Salazar said, but investigators are still trying to determine to what extent. Other drugs besides meth may also have been involved, he said.

A toxicology report won't be available for several days, said Coroner Dr. David Hadden.

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