Investigators searched for a motive Thursday morning in a double-murder-suicide in Northridge involving a Los Angeles deputy city attorney but believe the recent loss of his mother and ongoing health issues played a significant role in the tragedy.
Officers sent to a home in the 9600 block of Vanalden Avenue on a “shots fired” call shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday entered the residence and found the bodies of two men and a woman and a lone survivor was discovered across the street at a neighbor’s home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Police identified the gunman as Eric Lertzman, 60, who was also identified by the City Attorney’s office as a deputy city attorney.
An investigation revealed Lertzman shot and killed his wife, Sandra, 60, in their master bedroom, then walked across the hall where he attempted to shoot another woman, whom neighbors said was his daughter. She was able to escape to a bathroom and out a window before running to a neighbor’s house, police said.
Lertzman then shot and killed his 19-year-old son Michael, then returned to the master bedroom and took his own life, police said. Two guns were recovered at the scene.
A neighbor told reporters that a woman — believed to be Lertzman’s adult daughter — came out of the house saying her father had tried to shoot her.
“The daughter came running to my door saying her father took a shot at her,” neighbor Greg Demos told ABC7. “I went with her to the door and I knocked on the door, yelled. Nothing. We went to the back. She had locked the doors and left. She said my mom and my brother are still inside. We pummeled on the door, yelled for her dad, yelled her mother’s name and brother’s name. No answer. And that’s when we called the police.”
The surviving woman’s name was not immediately released by police.
“The motive behind this tragic murder/suicide is still under investigation, but investigators believe the recent loss of a loved one and on-going heath issued played a significant (role),” the LAPD said in a statement.
Michael Lertzman recently posted on his Instagram page that his grandmother had recently died. An obituary said Phyllis Lertzman died in late August and Eric Lertzman was one of her three sons.
“From what I understand, the husband had some medical issues,” neighbor Bob Nolan told Channel 5.
Lertzman joined the City Attorney’s Office in 2005.
“This is a horrible tragedy,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a 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.”
The CSUN chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi remembered Michael on Wednesday in a post on its Instagram page.
“It is with sorrow in our heart that we regret to inform that we lost a brother today,” the post read. “You had such a kind heart and was never seen without a smile.”
The fraternity planned a candlelight vigil for 7 p.m. Thursday to celebrate Michael’s life.
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