Police and firefighters who arrived at a burning northern Kentucky home to the sound of gunfire found three family members dead inside and a toddler wandering around outside unharmed, police said Wednesday.
The dead were identified as Seaward Padilla, 43; his wife, Lori Padilla, 45; and their daughter, Jessica Padilla, 22. The toddler was Jessica Padilla’s 2-year-old daughter.
Autopsies were expected to be completed on Thursday.
Assistant Police Chief David Nichols said police suspect Seaward Padilla fired the gun, which police recovered.
Authorities said the 911 call came from the Padilla residence. A male caller reported a fire in the basement before hanging up.
Police and firefighters came under fire about 10 p.m. on Tuesday when they arrived at the family’s two-story brick home in the tidy, middle-class Freedom Park neighborhood, Nichols said. He said the shooter didn’t leave the home.
“We had an officer in the back and an officer in the front,” Nichols said.
No responders were injured, though Nichols said police later found rounds that hit a fire truck and a house across the street. City worker Dan Koch said the home had severe fire damage inside. He went to the home Wednesday afternoon to nail plywood across broken windows.
Seaward Padilla was employed by the Kenton County School District as a substitute bus driver and monitor from 2003 until 2007, and that Jessica was a 2005 graduate of Simon Kenton High School, the district said.
The family bought the house in the neighborhood of manicured lawns in May 1999, according to a bankruptcy court record.
Papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Covington show Lori Padilla had a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case discharged in July 2007. A call to her bankruptcy attorney was not returned.
Grim neighbors were trying to come to terms with the tragedy on Wednesday as their children rode bicycles through a maze of television vans and satellite trucks or huddled on sidewalks to watch police sweep the scene for evidence.
Neighbors said the Padillas had a long history of domestic squabbles.
“Any time we’d see an emergency vehicle on this street with flashing lights, that’s the first house we’d look at,” said neighbor Tony Daly, who said he often heard arguments at the Padilla home.
Family friend Greg Waite said relatives had no immediate comment and planned to make a statement later in the week.
The Kentucky Enquirer said police records show that police were called to the house seven times in the past three years, for reasons including verbal and physical domestic disputes, animal complaints, neighbor disputes and a medical problem.
The last time a physical domestic call was made was Nov. 27, the paper reported. Lori and Seaward Padilla each filed for emergency orders of protection afterward, The Enquirer said. Both had also filed for divorce, with her case being dismissed last year and his never proceeding past the initial filing, the paper said.
Wayne Warning, who lives across the street, said word of the deaths was alarming.
“They were personable,” Warning said. “They obviously had their domestic problems.”