SANTA CLARITA (CNS) - The bodies of a family of four were found today in their Santa Clarita home by sheriff's deputies who determined that the man apparently shot his wife and their children before turning the gun on himself.
The gruesome discovery was made about 7 a.m. when deputies arrived to conduct a welfare check at the home in the 28800 block of Startree Lane, according to the sheriff's department.
Sheriff's Lt. Rodney Moore said the bodies were those of a man in his early 50s; his wife in her late 40s; their daughter in her early 20s; and their 11-year-old son.
The deceased were later identified as 51-year-old Michael Birnkrant, the suspected shooter; his 47-year-old wife Amy; their daughter Drew, who was in her early 20s; and their 11-year-old son Sean, according to media reports.
Neighbors said the home served as a day care facility that was closed for the holidays, and that the suspect's wife worked as a pre-school teacher at a nearby public school. He reportedly worked as a driver.
Deputies went to the residence after receiving a call from a family friend who requested they perform a welfare check, Moore said.
``Upon those deputies' arrival, they located four individuals who had sustained gunshot wounds to the upper torsos,'' Moore said. ``They were all pronounced dead here at the scene.''
Moore said the case ``appears to be a murder-suicide in which the husband shot and killed all three individuals and then turned the gun on himself.''
The handgun was recovered at the scene.
It was unclear when the shootings occurred, Moore said, adding that no one had reported hearing gunshots. He said detectives would canvass the neighborhood and ``dig into the deceased individuals' backgrounds, and hopefully we can determine what led up to this tragic event.''
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.