A medical technician fatally shot his wife, five young children and himself Monday in their Los Angeles-area home after claiming in a note to a TV station that he and his wife both had just been fired.
Police urged those facing tough economic times to get help rather than resort to violence.
"Today our worst fear was realized," Los Angeles Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner said. "It's just not a solution. There's just so many ways you find alternatives to doing something so horrific and drastic as this."
Ervin Antonio Lupoe and his wife, Ana, also a medical technician, worked at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center West Los Angeles, the hospital said.
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of the Lupoe family," the medical centre said in a statement.
In the letter he faxed to TV station, KABC-TV, Ervin Lupoe claimed he and his wife both had been fired and that she suggested they kill themselves and their children, too.
"Why leave the children to a stranger?" the man wrote, according to KABC-TV.
Note described problems at work
Although the fax asserted that the woman was involved, police Lt. John Romero said Lupoe was the suspect in the murders.
Police described the fax but did not release the detail reported by KABC, which included grievances against the medical centre.
"He was going through some critical situations at the job, that's what he described in that two-page letter, ongoing problems at the job, and that's what prompted him to take his own life and his family's, from what was said in the fax letter," Garner said.
Police said the child victims were an 8-year-old girl, twin 5-year-old girls and twin 2-year-old boys. Their names were not released.
The TV station called police after receiving the fax and a police communications center also received a call from a man who stated, "'I just returned home and my whole family's been shot,"' Garner said.
"There is a disconnect but we believe our suspect is the one who called," Garner said.
Officers rushed to the two-story home in Wilmington, near the sprawling twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, shortly before 8:30 a.m., apparently within minutes of the killings. Garner said the officers could still smell the gunshot residue and a revolver was found by the man's body.
The bodies of the girls and the father were in an upstairs bedroom. The mother and boys were in a bedroom downstairs.
The two-story home, much larger than its one-story neighbors, sits in front of a railroad track in Wilmington, a small community about 30 kilometres south of downtown L.A.
Retired truck driver Jaime Solache, who lives a few doors down, said many of these newer, larger homes in the neighborhood had gone into foreclosure. The Lupoe house, which has a sign hanging above the driveway reading "The Lupoe's Pad," is about six years old, Solache said.
News of the killings sent shivers through the community, and several neighbors came to the yellow police tape to watch a steady procession of officials enter and leave the home.
"This area right here is quiet, calm," said Armando Chacon, who lives one block north. "People like to sit out at weekends and barbecue. Other than this, no problems at all."
A community meeting was planned later Tuesday in a local church.
It is the fifth mass death of a Southern California family by murder or suicide in a year.
Gee, I don't know, maybe so that they can continue living and not have to suffer from your own dumbass mistakes..... cripes.