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Calif. Dad Killed Shielding Son, 4, From Gunman

Comstock/Thinkstock(INGLEWOOD, Calif.) -- A gunman who police say may have been wearing a painter’s mask opened fire on a family of five Saturday, killing a father and his 4-year-old son and then torching the family’s Inglewood, Calif., home.

The 30-year-old father, who has not been identified, used his body to shield two of his children when he was shot, Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said in a statement.

Police and the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the scene Saturday morning after receiving simultaneous calls about gunshots being heard and a structure fire in the area.

Fire fighting efforts were scaled back due to fear the suspect may have been armed in a rear residence, where officials believed the fire was started. Fallen power lines also created an obstacle, Fronterotta said.

The mother of the deceased 4-year-old boy made an “extraordinary rescue attempt” in the midst of the chaos.

“[She] ran from the residence carrying the 4-year-old child, who later died,” Fronterotta said. “This extraordinary rescue attempt occurred in spite of the fact that she had gunshot wounds to both legs.”

The mother of the child, along with a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy, are all listed in critical but stable condition.

The suspect is at large.  Judy Castellanos, a neighbor, told the Los Angeles Times the alleged gunman lived in one of three houses on the property and had been asked to leave after not paying his rent for years.

“He had been asked to leave by the end of this month,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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