The gunman then took his own life, according to authorities. Police said the children were an 8-year-old girl, twin 5-year-old girls and twin 2-year-old boys. LAPD Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner said police found notes inside the house in which the gunman referred to "work-related issues."
"In these tough economic times, there are other options," Garner said. "In my 32 years, I've never seen anything like this."
Police discovered the bodies after a bizarre series of events this morning that included, authorities said, the gunman faxing a letter to KABC Channel 7 shortly before killing himself. Someone, possibly the gunman, called the LAPD about 8:20 a.m. saying, "I just returned home, and my whole family has been shot," according to Garner.
Police entered the house and smelled gunshot residue. The bodies were found around the house. Each person apparently had been shot with a revolver.
Garner said the bodies of the three girls were found in an upstairs bedroom and the bodies of the boys and the mother were found in a back bedroom. Notes found at the house suggested the case was a murder-suicide, he said.
According to Channel 7, the faxed letter detailed workplace problems both the man and his wife were having at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in West Los Angeles. The letter said that an unnamed administrator told him one day that he shouldn't have come to work and said "you should have blown your brains out."
The man said in the letter that he complained to his union to no avail. Then both he and wife were fired, Channel 7 reporter Gene Gleeson said in summarizing the letter.
The couple, Ervin Antonio Lupoe and his wife, Ana, were both former employees of Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. "They were recently terminated," a spokesman for the hospital group confirmed.
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic deaths of Ana, Ervin and their five children," Kaiser said in a statement, extending the hospital group’s sympathies to their family and friends. "We are providing support to Kaiser Permanente employees."
Kaiser officials said they are cooperating with the ongoing LAPD investigation.
UPDATED at 3 p.m.: At an afternoon news conference, LAPD officials said that the family had pulled the older children out of their school several weeks ago. Capt. William B. Hayes said Lupoe was involved in a "business dispute" with Kaiser but did not elaborate.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city and county have hotlines available for people in desperate straits, including job centers, counselors and suicide hotline workers. "Know we are waiting with a helping hand and an open heart," he said.
Police investigators said that based on their preliminary investigation, the case involves one suicide and six homicides, according to LAPD Lt. John Romero. But they said they must review physical evidence to rule out other possibilities.
The letter faxed to KABC indicated, for example, that there was agreement between husband and wife that killing the family was the best course of action, suggesting the possibility that both adults planned the slayings in advance. But the 911 call in which the husband reportedly told police that he came home to find his family shot to death also clouded the picture.
-- Andrew Blankstein, Richard Winton, Corina Knoll, Ari B. Bloomekatz and Ruben Vives
Photo: Family portrait taken from Ervin Lupoe's Facebook page.