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Suspect in murders of 4 family members kills himself as officers close in to arrest him, Houston police say

Police had been searching for William Escaño Yah since Sunday when the bodies of his stepfather, mother and two siblings were found inside their burning home.

HOUSTON — Houston police say the suspect in the murders of four family members took his own life Thursday morning when he realized he was about to be arrested.

Police said 23-year-old William Escaño Yah shot himself in the head as officers approached his truck in the Gulfton area.

Escaño Yah was wanted for the murders of his stepfather, mother and two young siblings who were found inside their burning home on Sunday.

The victims were later identified as 37-year-old Jairo Escaño, his 44-year-old wife Elvira Yah and their children, 13-year-old Isabel and 10-year-old Jairo Jr.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the parents and little boy died from gunshot wounds to the head. The cause of death was not listed for Isabel.

Police said William Escaño Yah was Elvira's son and they believe the gun he used to kill himself is the same gun he used to kill his family members.

RELATED: Remembering the Escaños, the family of 4 found dead at their burning SW Houston home

RELATED: 'Heartbreaking' | Close family friend stunned by shooting deaths of Houston couple, two kids

Family members react

“He was so quiet, always polite. ‘Hi, Paulina. How are you doing.’ That was it. Always quiet. This is very shocking news to say that he could have done it,” Paulina Moreno said.

Moreno said William Escaño Yah killed his stepfather and her brother-in-law, Jairo Escaño.

“Jairo was in his life since he was 10. But it was always fighting, arguing all the time,” Moreno said. “I think that’s one of the things that made him do this. He was just tired of it.”

Young victims 'hadn't even lived their lives'

Firefighters found the victims' bodies after responding to the house fire in the 7500 block of Imogene, near Bissonnet and Fondren.

Police Chief Troy Finner said the fire was probably set to destroy evidence. 

"I’m angry when anybody loses their life in our city to violence but especially angry when it’s small kids. They hadn’t even lived their lives and it’s not fair," Finner said at the scene on Sunday. "It’s just really sad. It’s Sunday morning on a holiday weekend. I want people to pray for the family."

'They were good people'

A close family friend described Escaño as a hardworking man who cared for his family and sold goods at a local flea market.

“We see this and it’s heartbreaking because we’ve known them for a really long time,” Magali Perez said. “Everyone who knows them, knows them as good people."

RELATED: HPD: 2 adults, 2 children found shot to death at scene of house fire in SW Houston

Resources for victims of domestic or family violence

Domestic and family violence cases in the Houston area have increased at an alarming rate. Victims often suffer in silence because they feel scared, helpless or ashamed. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, here are some discreet ways to reach out for help.

The Houston Area Women’s Center has a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence at 713-528-2121 or 1-800-256-0551.

The Family Time Crisis Center can also be reached 24-hours a day at 281-446-2615.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741.

Or text LOVEIS to 22522.

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