In what the Metropolitan Police Department called “a tragedy for this community,” a family of five died in a quadruple murder-suicide in the northwest valley Wednesday night.
Three of the dead were children, shot by their father inside a bedroom within the family’s apartment sometime Wednesday. The father also killed the children’s mother — his wife — in public, outside of a Walgreens at 6101 W. Lake Mead Blvd., near the Jones Boulevard intersection.
It’s unclear whom he killed first — the woman or the children — but the man ultimately killed himself inside the same bedroom he killed his children, according to family. SWAT found the four dead from gunshot wounds, together, inside the room sometime after 10 p.m.
Thursday morning, the Clark County coroner’s office identified four of the people killed.
The coroner’s office identified Phoukeo Dej-Oudom, 35, who was found dead outside of a Walgreens near the intersection of Lake Mead and Jones Boulevards. Her three children, Anhurak Jason Dej-Oudom, 9, Xonajuk J.J. Dej-Oudom, 14, and Dalavanh Ariel Dej-Oudom, 15, were also identified by the coroner’s office.
The coroner’s office has not released the cause and manner of their deaths and has not identified the father.
Phoukeo Dej-Oudom married Jason Dej-Odoum, 34, in Franklin County, Ohio, in 2000, according to the county’s records. Clark County Family Court records show that Phoukeo Dej-Oudom filed for divorce on May 25.
The “disturbing” incident began in what initially sounded like a kidnapping call, Metro homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said. The wife was seen screaming and waving her hands for help about 7:20 p.m. in the middle of Torrey Pines Drive, just south of Lake Mead and just north of the family’s 1900 N. Torrey Pines apartment.
A woman who was driving north on Torrey Pines at the time saw the wife, stopped and let her inside the car. The driver then turned right into a nearby CVS Pharmacy parking lot at 6391 W. Lake Mead Blvd. with the woman, trying to help.
But moments later, the scared woman’s husband approached the good Samaritan’s car at gunpoint, opened the passenger door and yanked his wife out. Security footage shows him forcing his wife into his car at gunpoint and heading east on Lake Mead, police said, the wife partially hanging out of the car’s door or window.
About 7:30 p.m., witnesses saw the wife running through the Walgreens parking lot just a few blocks east on Lake Mead, her husband chasing her in his car. Seconds later, four gunshots rang out.
At least one hit the woman in the head. Another bystander rushed to help her, flipping her body over to render aid, but she was already dead, McGrath said.
The man fled.
As police worked to process the Walgreens scene, a relative of the husband contacted police about 8 p.m. The relative had received a text from the husband suggesting he was distraught and suicidal at his apartment.
Before police knew the man described in the text was the dead woman’s husband, officers responded to the apartment. There, a car matching the description of the car that fled the shooting scene — a black Mercedes — was parked outside.
Investigators quickly made connections between the two close-by scenes, and SWAT soon responded to the apartment in what became a standoff situation. Flash bangs went off and officers spoke into loudspeakers, saying, “We know you’re inside,” but police never made contact with the man.
A few hours later, when SWAT was able to confirm with relatives that the couple’s children were inside the apartment, officers entered the unit. The carnage inside was “tough on the investigators,” McGrath said.
“It’s really hard to understand how this could happen, how somebody could do that to children,” he said.
McGrath added that detectives and forensic investigators would be at the apartment “all night,” and that captains, deputy chiefs, “everybody all the way up to the sheriff has been informed of what’s going on.”
Before the shooting, there was one report of domestic violence at the same apartment this month, McGrath said, though he had few details on the incident as of Wednesday night. He added that the husband was involved in a separate, out-of-state domestic-violence incident in 2006.
“It’s a sad night for our community,” McGrath said, adding that every domestic violence call, including domestic-related homicides, is tragic. “But when someone kills children, it’s just disturbing. I don’t have an answer for that.”
Review-Journal reporter Christian Bertolaccini contributed to this story.