A good Samaritan could not save a Las Vegas woman screaming for help as her gun-wielding estranged husband chased her from their home to two drug store parking lots in a chaotic murder-suicide that left a family of five dead, authorities said Thursday.
The man gunned down his wife outside a business and killed their children, ages 9 to 15, at their apartment before shooting himself at the residence, police said. Homicide detectives are investigating what drove him to kill his family.
"It's really hard to understand how this could happen, how somebody could do that to children," police Lt. Dan McGrath said.
Court records show that Phoukeo Dej-Oudom filed for divorce May 25 from her husband, Jason Hagan Dej-Odoum. No attorney is listed in the petition, which said they were married in July 2000 in Columbus, Ohio.
The document asked a judge to consider domestic violence when considering custody. It didn't provide any detail, but noted the involvement of Clark County Child Protective Services.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Phoukeo feared her husband Jason was going to flee Las Vegas for Ohio with their children.
Police said they aren't releasing any details of a domestic violence call earlier this month because detectives are looking into it as part of the murder-suicide investigation.
No one appeared for a June 22 hearing in the divorce case.
The Clark County coroner's office identified the couple's children, including 15-year-old daughter, Dalavanh Ariel Dej-Oudom, and sons, Xonajuk J.J. Dej-Oudom, 14, and Anhurak Jason Dej-Oudom, 9. The youngest child died of a gunshot wound to the head. The coroner hasn't released the cause of death for the 35-year-old woman or the other children.
A driver spotted Phoukeo Dej-Oudom waving her hands and screaming for help in the street near her home and picked her up Wednesday night. Jason Hagan Dej-Odoum chased them to a drug store two blocks away, where he dragged his wife into his car at gunpoint.
As he drove off, his wife partially hung out the window and eventually escaped and started running. Witnesses saw Jason Hagan Dej-Odoum chasing her in his car while she fled toward a Walgreens about a half mile away.
Witnesses outside the store reported hearing four gunshots, and a bystander rushed to help the woman but she was already dead, with least one gunshot wound to the head, McGrath said.
Jason Hagan Dej-Odoum fled. A relative called police half an hour later saying the man was at the apartment and suicidal.
A SWAT team responded and found the bodies of the father and three children in a bedroom, though authorities were not sure if he killed the children before or after his wife.