By Dana Feldman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A gunman opened fire at a small business and a nearby home owned by members of the same family in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding two others before fleeing in a stolen car, authorities said.
It was unclear what motivated the gunman to commit the back-to-back shootings, which erupted shortly after 11 a.m. about two blocks apart in a blue-collar neighborhood, Downey police Lieutenant Dean Milligan said.
But the fact that all five victims were believed to be relatives led investigators to suspect that they may have been singled out by the perpetrator, he said.
"We don't believe it's a random act because it's two locations that are tied together, but we can't confirm that at this time," Milligan told Reuters.
He said police have not identified the suspect and were told by survivors that they did not recognize their assailant, who remained at large in Downey, a small city southeast of Los Angeles.
Details of the attacks remained murky. But according to authorities' initial account, the gunman walked into a commercial fire-protection business and started shooting, killing a man and woman and wounding a third person, described only as a female.
Driving away in a car owned by one of the family members, the suspect then moved on to the house two blocks away, where he killed a female occupant and wounded a 13-year-old boy, police said. Ages of the other victims were not given.
The two survivors were listed in critical but stable condition, Milligan said.
There was no sign of forced entry at either location, and investigators have yet to determine whether anything but the stolen car was taken from either the business or the home, police said.
The two survivors, each of whom phoned the 911 emergency number to summon police after they were shot, both told authorities there was a verbal exchange between the gunman and his victims before he opened fire at each location, but police declined to elaborate.
Milligan said there was no immediate reason to believe that the shootings were related to street gangs or drugs, and that none of the victims was known to be involved in a divorce or child custody dispute. He said there was no record of any employees being fired recently.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)