Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Eric Lertzman is believed to have shot his wife, his adult son, and himself to death in a horrific murder suicide that his daughter narrowly escaped by running outside in her pajamas, where she flagged down a neighbor and told him her dad tried to shoot her.
The neighbor told KTLA-TV about the daughter’s terrifying account; the coroner identified the murder victims as Sandra Lertzman, 60, and Michael Lertzman, 19. Eric Lertzman, 60, was listed as dying from suicide.
Mike Feuer, the elected Los Angeles City Attorney, released a statement on what he called the “Northridge tragedy,” writing, “It is with shock and profound sadness that we announce that today Deputy City Attorney Eric Lertzman was involved in a tragic incident which we understand resulted in the death of his wife, his adult son and himself.”
He added, “As we search for answers to how this could happen, we mourn the victims and envelop those left behind with our love at this time of unbearable loss. Of course we will provide members of our City Attorney Family with needed counseling and support.”
Los Angeles police say that officers went to the Northridge home around 9 a.m. after receiving a call that there was a shooting in progress. All three victims died of gunshot wounds, KTLA-TV reported, adding that police recovered at least two handguns. A woman in her 20s escaped the home, police confirmed. The motive was not clear, but Lt. Mike Kozak said in a news briefing that it was a “family violence situation.” Officers located three deceased victims when they responded.
One woman wrote on Facebook that she was “so stunned and sickened about the loss” of the family members. “…I keep thinking of how selfish an act is to kill your family and then yourself. Why didn’t he get help? Why such a horrible loss?” She identified Lertzman’s wife as Sandy Cossid Lertzman, and his son as Michael Lertzman. Property records show the Vanalden Avenue residence where the shootings occurred is listed to Eric J. and Sandra Lertzman.
“I’m so so sad and heartbroken to hear this. Sandy was the sweetest person, ?” wrote another man on Facebook.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Neighbor Says Lertzman’s Frantic Daughter Ran Outside in Pajamas Proclaiming That Her Father Was the Gunman
Greg Demos, a neighbor, gave KTLA-TV a chilling description of what he witnessed; he said that a woman who said she was Lertzman’s daughter ran outside in her pajamas and told him that her father tried to shoot her.
Demos told the LA television station that the young woman was “upset, confused, distraught, somewhat in shock” and told him, “I don’t know what to tell you Greg but this is what just happened in my house, and I don’t know what to do. My dad took a shot at me, and my mom and my brother are still inside.” The station also reported that the daughter may have jumped out a window to escape the carnage.
The Facebook page of the surviving daughter says she works for a non-profit in Los Angeles designed to improve community wellness. She studied Environmental studies and International Politics. “My heart is full of pride & love❣?❤️?” Sandy wrote on a graduation picture of her daughter.
Lertzman’s sister-in-law Cindy Stern told The New York Daily News, “It was totally incomprehensible to her how this could happen. She (the daughter) heard a bunch of shots and was able to make it from her bedroom to the powder room to escape out the window.”
2. Lertzman’s Wife Called Her Husband a ‘Supreme Husband’ & Dad on Facebook, Saying She Wanted to Spent Three More Decades With Him
Sandy Lertzman shared selfies with her 60-year-old husband on Facebook, filling her page with pictures of family members. She indicated that the couple had been married for more than 30 years.
“Happy 30th Anniversary ?❤️?❤️ to my Supreme Husband, Eric, a Supreme Dad to our amazing kids and my best friend, too. I love you forever and can’t wait to share at least the next 30 years with you❣❌⭕️?” she wrote with one post in 2016 that showed the couple in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Thank you everyone for your warm wishes! You all helped Eric and I celebrate our milestone and remember back to our day in 1986 when we each said ‘I Do!’ We’re so glad we did! ❤️” she wrote. Sandy Lertzman declared herself “pro-women, pro-choice, anti-semitism,” on her Facebook profile picture.
3. Lertzman Joined the City Attorney’s Office 14 Years Ago; the Office Handles Domestic Violence Cases
Feuer provided additional details on Twitter, writing, “Details are evolving, though early reports indicate police were called to the family home because of a domestic disturbance. Lertzman joined the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in 2005.”
Lertzman’s brief LinkedIn page identifies himself as “DCA City of Los Angeles.”
The city attorney’s office does handle domestic violence cases, but Lertzman comes up under worker’s compensation listings.
According to the city attorney’s website, that office “plays a leading role in shaping the future of our city by fighting to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods, reducing gang activity, preventing gun violence, standing up for consumers and the elderly, protecting our environment and so much more. The City Attorney’s office writes every municipal law, advises the Mayor, City Council and all city departments and commissions, defends the city in litigation, brings forth lawsuits on behalf of the people and prosecutes misdemeanor crimes such as domestic violence, drunk driving and vandalism.”
4. Eric Lertzman Posed With a Motorcycle on Facebook
Compared to his wife and children, Eric Lertzman didn’t have much of a social media presence. His Facebook page basically consists of a picture of himself with a motorcycle. “Nice picture daddy!” his daughter wrote in the comment thread. Eric Lertzman also posted what appeared to be a throwback skateboarding picture.
A man wrote on City Attorney Feuer’s comment thread on Facebook: “Mike Feuer, we are all in shock. I know what you and your office stood for. Michael Lertzman, Eric’s son, was an amazing person, a camp counselor at Camp Alonim, who has touched all three of my kids. To know what is at the ROOT of this senseless tragedy is painful. Where do we go from here? #NoGunsAtHome.”
Sandy gushed about her daughter many times, writing, “Today is all about YOU, dear daughter❣️ Amazing, beautiful, charismatic, dedicated, ever-environmental, fabulous, gorgeous, honest, intelligent, journey-driven, kind, loving, multi-talented, non-discriminatory, over-the-top, passionate, quick-witted.”
Sandy also lavished praise on Michael. In 2017, she wrote, “Happy 18th Birthday to our dear son Michael Lertzman❣️ You are an awesome human being and we are proud of you & Love You! XO, Mom & Dad.”
5. Eric Lertzman Was Eligible to Practice Law in California Since 1992 & News Reports Say He’d Recently Had Surgery
According to his law license, Lertzman’s full name was Eric Jack Lertzman. He was admitted to the state bar in 1992 and had an active license.
Property records show the couple’s home assessed at more than $670,000. Photos show it comes with a pool. The scene turned tragic as word of the shootings spread, and law enforcement rushed there en masse.
CBS Los Angeles reported that, per neighbors, Eric Lertzman was on disability from his city job, had recently had surgery, and was in pain. The nature of his ailments was not clear. Stern told the Daily News Lertzman was about to have a hernia medication. “This is a tragedy. This is a case of somebody snapping. He was in pain and on pain medication. It’s so out of character for him,” Stern said to the newspaper. “He was a mild-mannered man.”