Uncle arrested in shooting deaths of 3 relatives in Fontana apartment

FONTANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A 73-year-old man was arrested in the shooting deaths of three relatives during what police were calling a horrific case of family violence early morning Wednesday in Fontana.

The suspect was identified as the victms' uncle, Ali Zafar.

Officers responded shortly before 3 a.m. to a report of shots fired in the 14500 block of Village Drive, where they confronted "a male suspect with a gun walking in the interior of (an) apartment complex," the Fontana Police Department said in a statement.

Zafar complied with the officers' commands to drop the gun and was taken into custody without incident, according to the news release.

Police entered an apartment and found four people who had gunshot wounds. Two women and one man were pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities. The fourth victim, a male, was transported in critical condition to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he underwent surgery.

One woman inside the apartment managed to hide and avoid being shot herself.

The deceased individuals were not immediately identified, but loved ones said all four were nieces and nephews of the suspect, and some were apparently sleeping when they were shot, investigators said.

According to witnesses, the fourth victim, wounded, managed to escape the apartment and ran to his neighbors for help.

A man at the complex, who declined to be publicly identified, said his sister lives next door to the apartment where the gunfire occurred.

"I guess the guy that got shot went in their apartment and there's blood everywhere," the man said. "The guy was sitting in the bathroom on the floor."

"He just said there was a fight and that the uncle shot him," the man added. "That's all he said -- 'My uncle, my uncle,' he kept telling my sister."

After speaking with Zafar, police said the alleged gunman told them his motive was a financial dispute he had with the family.

"He advised investigators that...his family owed him money and he wasn't being paid," explained Fontana PD Officer Kevin Goltara.

Police were continuing to interview Zafar to try and get a better understanding of the motive and whether the shooting was premeditated or a spontaneous act.

Police were also expected to talk to the one witness who was not shot inside the apartment.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Fontana police at (909) 350-7700.

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