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'Devastating:' California mom accused of killing her three young children

Authorities said the woman tried to take her own life.

A California mother was accused of murdering her three children and trying to take her own life, authorities said Thursday.

Deputies found the children in an apartment in the state's Central Valley on Wednesday afternoon while responding to a call for a welfare check, the Merced County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

The children were identified as Alexa Ortiz Lara, 3; Matteo Ortiz Lara, 5; and Anna Ortiz Lara, 8.

Deputies also found their mother, Patricia Ortiz, suffering from self- inflicted wounds, the sheriff's office said. She survived and was taken to a local hospital.

Ortiz will be booked on suspicion of murder, authorities said.

A neighbor of the family in the small town of Le Grand described seeing a man frantically walking around their neighborhood saying his children had been murdered, NBC affiliate KSEE of Fresno reported.

Toys, candles and flowers had been placed outside the family's apartment Thursday, KSEE reported.

"It is very devastating to the town, the schools and everything just being a small area," said Daryl Allen of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, KSEE reported. "It’s hitting the area pretty hard."

In a statement, the superintendent of the Le Grand Elementary School District said the community was "heartbroken by this tragedy, and we grieve for this enormous loss."

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.