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Cops eager to talk to murder-suicide survivor

/ Source: The Associated Press

Investigators on Monday hoped to interview a 14-year-old who was the lone survivor of an apparent murder-suicide in which five other members of his family were killed.

The teen, who underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to his torso, may hold the key to what happened at the condo complex in Yorba Linda, a bedroom community about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The apartment where the shootings occurred is across the street from the Richard Nixon Library.

Police had not uncovered the motive for the shootings, and hoped the teen, identified as Ian Mercado, can help explain why his stepfather gunned down his family late Saturday, said police Lt. Jack Conklin of the Brea Police Department, which serves Yorba Linda.

"We're still searching for motive. We've talked to neighbors, but so far most neighbors are saying that they were a very quiet family," Conklin said. "We have spoken to some extended family members, too."

Boy called 911
A neighbor reported shots fired late Saturday and two minutes later Mercado also called 911, saying his father shot him and his brother.

Police found five people, including three children, dead of gunshot wounds. The teen's mother was discovered on the doorstep, Conklin said. It appeared he was unaware when he called 911 that his mother and sisters also had been shot, police said.

Inside the home, police found the bodies of two girls in a bedroom. The body of a boy was discovered in another bedroom, along with the body of a man with a shotgun beneath him.

Based on the number of shell casings, investigators concluded that each victim was shot once, Conklin said.

The victims were identified as Orland Cho, 41; Maricel Cho, 39; Nicole Cho, 9; Kathleen Cho, 8; and Christopher Cho, 5. Authorities believe the couple were married and Mercado was the woman's son from a previous relationship.

On Monday, flowers and teddy bears were stacked outside the home, and Rod Collins said he stopped by to provide information about a charity fund for Mercado. He said his daughter was in Christopher Cho's class.

"We were at the school this morning and we're all having a rough time," Collins said. "How do you tell a 5-year-old their little buddy got killed by his father?"

Orland Cho was overworked and frustrated with a troubled marriage, a cousin, Jun Cho, told The Orange County Register. He said Cho grew up in the Philippines.

The cousin said Cho worked long hours, first in the cargo department at Los Angeles International Airport, then selling cell phones and life insurance, but felt he could never make his wife happy.

"He loved his kids," Jun Cho told the newspaper. "They were the most precious thing that ever happened to him."

Jun Cho did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking additional comment Monday.