LONG BEACH – Police struggled Friday to find the motive for a deadly shooting rampage in a neighborhood market by a gunman who was found to have the skeletal remains of two people in his home.
Antonio Pineiro, 48, had no criminal record before he walked into the Top Valu Market and sprayed dozens of bullets from a .38-caliber revolver and a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun before he was killed by officers Thursday evening, police Lt. Bill Blair said.
“We have not clearly established the motive,” Blair said.
Neighbors said they hadn’t seen his parents for a year and that Pineiro had said they moved away.
Shooting survivor Conrad Ibasco, 45, dragged his wife to safety after his 8-year-old daughter, Barbara, was shot in the head as mother and child stood in line at the checkout stand.
“I heard three shots. I was at the produce aisle,” he said. “I ran over to my wife and I saw that my daughter was down.”
“I said to my wife, ’Just leave Barbara. She’s going to be fine,’ but I knew she was dead.”
Ibasco was grazed in the left leg and his wife, Meryna, was wounded in the left arm. He pulled her into an aisle and they cowered there until police arrived.
Also killed was store clerk Marcela Perez, 38, of Long Beach.
People were running from the store when police arrived to confront the gunman, who was standing near the checkout stands. Pineiro fired at least one shot at officers but missed and was wounded several times by return fire, Blair said. All told, more than 40 shots were exchanged, he said.
The Ibascos were treated at a hospital and released. Also treated for wounds and released were Richard Coleman, 32, of Long Beach and Concepcion Henriquez, 58, of Long Beach.
The shooting left the market spattered with blood. But it was cleaned up and open for business Friday.
Pineiro lived behind the store in a working-class part of the port city 25 miles south of Los Angeles. The Ibascos lived two blocks away.
On Friday, Mrs. Ibasco lay sleeping on the couch in their living room, which bore a cross and religious pictures above a mantelpiece covered with religious dolls. Ibasco chain-smoked as he talked with reporters.
“I just leave it to God,” he said. “Sometimes evil triumphs over good. I know it’s hard but I have to accept it.”
Ibasco said his daughter, a smiling girl with dark bangs, loved the “Harry Potter” movie, and Ibasco said she watched it five times in a row after he recently bought a copy for her.
“She was active in class. She was outgoing. She didn’t know the word shyness,” he said.
Scattered in her bedroom were “Hello Kitty” stuffed dolls. A construction-paper sign with her name was taped to her door.
In Pineiro’s condominium, police found the decomposed bodies of two people. They were discovered on a bed.
They had been dead perhaps more than a year, Blair estimated, and their ages, genders and cause of death were yet to be determined.
Authorities suspected the bones might be those of Pineiro’s parents, who vanished about a year ago.
Residents of the condominium complex said Pineiro told some people that they had moved to Miami, others that they had returned to Cuba.
Pineiro was described as a loner who didn’t socialize.
“He never says hi or talks to anybody,” said Anthony Martin, 20. “He seems to come and go very quietly.”
Derek Duncan, 48, lived in the complex for two years. He said Pineiro rarely spoke to anyone and was only seen getting the mail or smoking cigarettes by the back gate, which opens into the market parking lot.
“We barbecue down here, and he wouldn’t come out,” he said. “He just kept to himself.”
Blair said Pineiro had no prior criminal record but had filed a police report as a burglary victim. He did not provide details.