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article imageMan shoots, kills wife, 2 others before son grabs gun, kills him

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 3, 2016 in Crime
Rowland Heights - An argument over a washing machine sparked a tragic quadruple homicide on New Year's Eve when a man shot and killed his wife and two other people in his home, leading his son to wrestle the gun away and allegedly fatally shoot him, authorities say.
Michael John Morey, 54, allegedly shot and killed his bedridden wife, Betty Jean Morey; his son's girlfriend Linda Patricia Merrell, 48, who also lives at the Rowland Heights home; and Ernesto Calzadilla, a 27-year-old house guest, the Los Angeles County coroner and sheriff's officials reported, according to The Associated Press.
Morey was a heavy drinker who also owned a large gun collection. Authorities say they had made dozens of trips to the home, the sheriff's department reported.
Officials have been talking to witnesses in the hopes of finding out what led to the father pulling out a semi-automatic and opening fire.
"It looks like it was a dispute between the dad and the son's girlfriend, probably over using the washing machine," Sheriff's Lt. John Corina told a local paper, according to The Associated Press. "For some reason, this set the dad off."
Officials allege the son, Christopher Morey, 33, wrestled the gun from his father before firing once and killing him, Sky News reports. He is now in custody, having been booked and held in lieu of $1 million bail and faces a charge for the murder of his father.
It will be up to prosecutors to decided whether to charge him with a crime, Corina said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
"We'll see what the D.A. wants to do," he said. "We're going to book him for what he did — he killed another human being."
Morey's relatives declined to speak to reporters on Friday at the family's residence.
Over the last three years, sheriff's deputies responded to the house on Batson Avenue 25 times, after receiving complaints from neighbors or others of disturbances at the house.
Then, on Thursday, Christopher Morey called 911 to report a shooting at the family home.
Law enforcement responding to the scene of the homicides on New Year s Eve.
Law enforcement responding to the scene of the homicides on New Year's Eve.
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The Morey family was friendly, neighbors say, and often had barbecues in the yard, but they also drank frequently and were known to be loud, the Times reports. Bottles of Bud Light lined shelves near the front door and filled a laundry basket and a cardboard box.
People who knew the son and his father say the two men cared for Morey's mother, who had suffered a series of strokes. The combination of Morey's dad working long hours and caring for the mother placed both men under heavy strain.
Sean Tubbs, 27, who grew up with Morey said that both men had to do everything for her. Tubbs, as well as others, said that the father was not welcoming towards guests, and Calzadilla's brother said Morey's father "wasn't all there" and had even shot at Ernesto Calzadilla once before.
"We told him not to come over here anymore," said his brother, Wilfred Calzadilla.
The young man's family and friends gathered outside the house, tearfully placing candles and flowers at a memorial, the Times reports. Ernesto Calzadilla's father had heard that his son was shot outside the house, and so he crouched over the gravel walkway, his hands carefully probing the dirt, looking for any signs of his son.
Ernesto was upset about losing his job and he would often hang out at the Morey house, said Wilfred Calzadilla. Christopher Morey helped him out with beer and money. Sometimes Morey and his girlfriend would feed Calzadilla and send him home with cash so that he could purchase things for his 10-month-old daughter.
"They were generous," Wilfred said. "They saw he was sad."
Ernesto had planned to toast the new year at another relative's house, but he wound up staying at Morey's instead. The Calzadilla family was celebrating with apple cider when they found out about the shooting.
"We heard it on the news and we kept hoping it wasn't my brother," he said. "But they told us it was."
What's particularly tragic is that Ernesto had just been hired to work at another warehouse and was schedule to begin his new job on Monday, Wilfred Calzadilla said.
A family member has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay Ernesto's funeral expenses and to help his girlfriend, who is now a single parent.
A 2011 study conducted at the University of California, Davis found that gun owners who have confronted someone or carried concealed weapons were more than twice as likely to drink heavily as people who don't have guns, Futurity reports.
Even after adjusting for age, sex, race, and state of residence, the researchers found that binge drinking, chronic heavy use of alcohol, and drinking and driving were all more common among gun owners than among those who don't own guns.
The study also found that alcohol abuse was most common among gun owners who took part in gun-related behaviors that carry a risk of violence. This included having a loaded, unlocked firearm in the home and driving or riding in a vehicle with a loaded firearm.
The study was published in the journal Injury Prevention.
Worries about this had prompted Ernesto Calzadilla to stop going to the house, especially in regards to Michael John Morey, but the young man decided to make an exception on New Year's Eve.
"Mixing alcohol and guns never ends good," Wilfred said.
Ernesto's father Ronald Calzadilla told ABC Eyewitness News that Michael John Morey had more than 100 guns in the house.
The father and son had decided to spend some time with friends at the house on Batson Avenue. Ronald decided to leave earlier that evening, but Ernesto had decided to stay.
Ronald is now devastated and blames himself, because he knew the shooter and should have seen this coming, he says.
Michael John Morey even had the habit of walking around with an AK-47 when he'd been drinking, shooting the gun in the house every now and then, the older man said.
Now, he says he can't come to terms with his son's death. He keeps thinking his son is going to come home and talk to him again.
"I just don't want to believe it."
More about quadruple homicide, man shoots kills wife, Washing machine, New Year's Eve, Betty Jean Morey
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