LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles County coroner has identified the victims in the brutal slaying of a grandmother and her four grandchildren, including a boy not yet 2 years old, in the Southern California high desert.
The children's father, Germarcus Lamar David, is a security guard whose online posts talked about following a good and religious life. Prosecutors on Tuesday filed criminal charges against him — five counts of murder and three counts of assault on a child causing death.
David, 29, used both a handgun and a shotgun in the killings, according to Lt. Brandon Dean of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Authorities would not say how many bullets he fired during the attack.
David was initially expected to appear in court Tuesday, but his arraignment was postponed until Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
“No family should endure this type of tragedy, especially when the alleged perpetrator was responsible for their protection,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a news release Tuesday that announced the charges.
Authorities haven't released a possible motive for the weekend attack in Lancaster, a city in the Antelope Valley high desert community north of Los Angeles.
The coroner's office said the deceased are: Ericka England, 51; Namyiah David, 11; Germarcus David Jr., 7; Kaden David, 2; and Noah David, 19 months. The coroner’s office has not yet completed autopsies on the victims but authorities previously said they were shot in the upper torso and died at the scene.
England was babysitting her grandchildren. The children's mother returned home Sunday night to find the bodies of her family and called 911, authorities said.
Grace Beltran, who lives three houses away, said a woman ran back and forth in their front yard, screaming, “My babies are gone! They’re all dead!”
David turned himself in to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies within minutes of his wife's arrival at home. He remains jailed on $2 million bail.
“To do this to the kids, it’s cowardly. It’s just unbelievable,” Waki Jones, who worked with the family through his Lancaster day care service, told the Los Angeles Times.
Sheriff's Lt. Brandon Dean said he wasn't aware of any previous reports of domestic violence at the home and David did not have any restraining orders against him. Investigators have interviewed David and his wife but Dean declined to discuss what they told detectives.
England had been a state corrections officer since 1997 and worked at the state prison in Lancaster when she was killed, according to the union that represents corrections officers.
“We are heartbroken to learn about this tragedy and we will do everything we can to support her family," said Glen Stailey, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. "We are in mourning for our friend and colleague.”
David was a licensed security guard and held a permit to carry a gun but it expired in August 2020 and was listed as canceled, according to records from the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, which regulates the private security industry.
What appeared to be David’s Facebook page includes a photograph of a crucifix and posts from late October and earlier this month offering spiritual and moral views.
“Just know that God loves you when you feel unloved for,” David said in a Nov. 16 post.
“The love I give will overflow from one heart to the next as a gift that keeps giving. I will be one of the reasons that others believe in the true goodness of this world," David posted on Oct. 27, adding: “THAT is what I want my legacy to be. THAT is what I want my children to grow up seeing."
The killings happened in a neighborhood of tidy, modern homes, some decorated for Christmas.
James Martin, 32, who lives nearby, said the deaths broke his heart.
“I don’t understand it,” he said. “I know things get rough but it’s never worth it to take the life — lives — of anybody.”
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the grandmother's first name based on corrected information from the coroner. She is Ericka England, not Erika.
Associated Press writers John Antczak and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.