A South Florida man who police say went on a murderous and suicidal rampage at his estranged wife’s home never before was known to be an angry man, his eldest son said.
“He was not a bad man," 19-year-old Manny Zavala was quoted by the Sun Sentinel as he described his father, Isidro Zavala. "He was always a hard worker, trying to give us the best life he could."
Manny Zavala, his relatives and friends on Sunday returned to the 400 block of Southwest Eighth Avenue, where Boynton Beach police say Isidro Zavala killed his two youngest sons and himself early Saturday.
Isidro Zavala spared his wife’s life, telling her that she would live to suffer from the deaths of her children, Eduardo Zavala, 12, and Mario Zavala, 11, police said.
Manny Zavala didn’t reside with either parent and wasn’t present during the killings, police said. He learned what happened when Boynton Beach police detectives woke him and drove him to the station to tell him the news, the Sun Sentinel said.
Manny Zavala said he last saw his father Friday morning, when he had invited his father to watch the Super Bowl at his house. “There was no indication there was anything wrong,” Manny Zavala told the newspaper. “He said OK. I had no idea that's the last time I would see him.”
Manny Zavala said police had not shown him the note that his father left behind, addressed to him, which he said he expected would contain an explanation for his father’s actions.
Manny Zavala’s mother, Victoria Flores Zavala, contacted police, who arrived at her house about 1:50 a.m. Saturday.
Officers found one child dead in a back screened patio area. A second child was found dead in the kitchen dining room area. Officers found Isidro Zavala’s body in the kitchen, police said.
Victoria Zavala said that her husband killed their children, police said. She said her husband had been separated from her for some time and no longer lived in the house. Department of Children and Families say there was no history of violence or abuse. Victoria Zavala filed for divorce in October.
“She tried fighting him off and begged him to kill her and not the children,” Boynton Beach police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said in a press release. “He told her she was going to stay alive and suffer the loss of them.”
On Monday, a small memorial continued to grow outside the home.
"I never thought he'd be capable to do something like that. May him but not the children," said Mina Lehyen, who said she saw the boys, who lived down the street, every day. A few blocks away, outsde their school, Poinciana Elementary, the flag flew at half staff.
"At this time, we are focusing on grieving this terrible loss with the students and staff. We have grief counselors available on campus for any student needing to talk about losing a friend. Students have been writing letters to the family to share their feelings. As a team, we will work together to find a way to honor the family when the time is appropriate," the principals of the school said in an email statement.
Lehyan has set up a night to bring people together for a cause she calls Boynton United to Bury the Violence, and she passed otu fliers in neighborhood.
"We don't want that to happen again. It's too sad. We don't want to deal with another one, another case," said Lehyan.