Maria said, "I tell my son, if he's watching me, I ask him to think about the things he's done. If he doesn't want to come back, and if he doesn't want to give up, please bring the children to me. I ask him to bring me the kids. Everybody is worried about the kids."
Investigators say 27-year-old Jose Luis Ortega shot his estranged wife when she dropped off their kids at his Sunland home just after 10 a.m. Sunday. He then took off with the two boys, 5-year-old Diego and 3-year-old Luis.
The suspect's black Ford Ranger pickup truck was spotted late Sunday night in a remote area of Lancaster and is now in police custody.
"They were able to search [the truck] thoroughly. There didn't appear to be any foul play; they even brought out dogs and searched the surrounding area, because it's a very desolate area, to see if there was any possibility of any issues there," said LAPD Lt. Ted Matthews. "With losing the truck, we lost the Amber Alert. Our suspect now has obtained another vehicle and we believe heading towards Mexico. We are now re-gearing, we're asking the help of the FBI, the Marshals Office, and the Center for Sexually Exploited and Missing Children."
Police were able to make contact with Ortega briefly when he answered his cell phone Sunday night.
"About midnight, we called Mr. Ortega's cell phone and had a conversation with him, basically wanting just to locate the children, make sure that they're safe, and his response was that they were safe, and that was it. He hung up," said Lt. Matthews.
It is unknown if the two young boys saw their father shoot their mom. Police are extremely concerned for their welfare.
Meantime, neighbors say they saw no warning signs that something like this might happen.
"They're wonderful neighbors. I'm glad to have them as neighbors and I'm sorry that this sadness has happened, this tragic occurrence today. We're all in a state of shock," said neighbor Denise Maybee.
The boys' mother remains hospitalized in critical condition. Police say she was shot as many as 12 times by her estranged husband as she was walking to her car.
She is reported to be in stable condition, going in and out of consciousness. She is writing notes to police to tell them where she thinks her children may be, but police have not released that information.
Ortega is believed to be armed and dangerous. Police think he may be headed toward Mexico, where he has family.
He is 5" 6', 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.
If you have any information regarding their whereabouts, you're asked to call detectives at the LAPD Foothill Division at (818) 756-8861.
Eyewitness News Reporters Lisa Hernandez and Leo Stallworth contributed to this report.