'Pure and innocent': Three boys shot dead in 'murder-suicide' identified

Three young boys who were shot dead alongside their parents in what police believe was a murder-suicide have been identified by family.

Police found the bodies of 31-year-old father Jose Valdivia, Sabrina Rosario, 29, and their three-year-old son Enzie Valdivia at their San Diego home in Paradise Hills on Saturday morning (local time), NBC San Diego reported.

Two other sons, Zuriel Valdivia, 5, and Zeth Valdivia, 11, were shot and later died in hospital.

Zuriel Valdivia (left) and his brother Enzie (right). Source: NBC San Diego

A fourth son, Ezekial Valdivia, 9, was also shot but survived and underwent surgery.

"It appears to be a tragic case of domestic violence, murder-suicide," Police Lieutenant Matt Dobbs told reporters.

After Ms Rosario obtained a restraining order against Valdivia on Friday, the couple got in an argument on Saturday morning. After allegedly shooting the family, the father turned his handgun on himself, Lt Dobbs said.

Ezekial, 9, (left) survived the shooting but remains in a critical condition. His 11-year-old brother Zeth (right) was allegedly shot dead by his father. Source: NBC San Diego

"When the officers arrived on the scene, they were able to look into one of the windows and see a small child inside covered in blood," he said.

Ms Rosario’s sister, Jocelyn Rosario, said the couple were high school sweethearts but her sister had pushed for a divorce against Valdivia’s will.

Ms Rosario told NBC San Diego Valdivia once sent his sister a picture of alcohol and a gun as he struggled to comprehend her wish to separate from him.

Sabrina Rosario was shot dead in the home she grew up in, her sister said.

Five people have died after an apparent murder-suicide in San Diego. Source: AP

Shocked neighbours were in disbelief over the deaths, saying the children were often seen playing outside with other children.

“Why would someone take these kids' life? It's senseless; they’re pure and innocent,” neighbour Sanya Gordon said.

Lt Dobbs said the crime scene was so gruesome it traumatised even the arriving officers who carried the children out of the house in a desperate effort to save them.

He said counselling will be made available for any officers who need it.

“My heart goes out to the family and their friends,” Chief Nisleit said.

“As a husband and a father this incident is very difficult for me to even think about.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, find help by calling 1800 RESPECT.

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