Boynton Beach police say a man killed his two young sons before taking his own life early Saturday morning.
Officers were called to the home in the 400 block of SW 8th Avenue around 2 a.m. on Saturday. When they arrived, they found the body of 45-year-old Isidro Zavala in the kitchen.
Detectives said they have determined that Isidro went to the house with the intent of killing his two young sons and his estranged wife. Police say Isidro had been separated from his wife for some time.
The mother told police she was watching television when she heard a commotion. Officials said Isidro strangled his 12-year-old son, Eduardo Zavala, to death with a rope in their back patio area.
Police said the mother tried to fight him off, begging him to kill her instead, and then called police.
"What Ms. Zavala had to go through, to watch her children killed before her, is probably the most horrific thing you can ever imagine," said Boynton Beach Police Chief Matthew Immler.
Isidro also attempted to strangle 11-year-old Marco Zavala with a rope in the kitchen dining room area, but when he failed, detectives said he shot his son several times before turning the gun on himself. Detectives said he shot himself twice, once in the chest, then in the head.
Before turning the gun on himself, police said Isidro told his wife Victoria he wanted her to suffer the lost of their sons.
"He said, 'Now you are going to live with this,'" said Boynton Beach Detective Christopher Crawford.
Authorities said detectives also found a blue bag at the home with a second firearm, identified as a Tec-9, and extra ammunition. The bag also contained duct tape, cutting shears and an emotional note addressed to his oldest son, dated Jan. 31, 2013.
Detectives said they had obtained a search warrant for the house as well as a nearby home where Isidro Zavala had been living.
Detectives found another note, dated Jan. 21, 2013 at Isidro's home in the 1100 block of SE 3rd Street. With the evidence found Saturday, Isidro may have been planning this incident for the past two weeks.
Officials said their kids belonged to a Boynton Beach Little League team. Neighbors said they were stunned when they heard what had happened.
"When I heard that, I started to cry because it is very shocking a parent would do that," said Billy Alcin, a neighbor. "I knew them very well. They would come over my house and play PlayStation 2 together."
"He's a nice guy, a nice guy," said Serge Alcin, another neighbor. "I'd never think this guy would do something like that."
All of this was nearly impossible for Mariano Batalla, a friend of the family, to understand, who worked with Isidro doing landscaping work, to including a job just yesterday."
"He was an amazing father," said Batalla. "He's always happy. He's an amazing man."
Detectives said Isidro didn't have a criminal record and they've never responded to domestic violence calls at their home. Neighbors said they knew the couple had separated, but never once saw him act violently against his wife and children.
"I don't know what he was really thinking about," said Billy. "He had moved away. He could have just stayed away. It doesn't make any sense."
"As time passes, perhaps their wounds will heal. I doubt it," said Immler. "I don't know that you can ever recover from something like this."
Officials say the couple also has a 19-year-old son.