A man and his 4-year-old son died Saturday in a shooting in Inglewood, California, while his wife and two other children were wounded by shots from a masked gunman.

The man, 30, used his body to shield his family, but he and his youngest child were killed, the Inglewood chief of police, Mark Fronterotta, told local media.

A boy aged 7 and a girl of 6 were taken to hospital in serious condition, while the mother, 28, was shot in a knee and the pelvis, and an 8-year-old boy was unhurt.

According to preliminary investigations, the suspect first set fire to the family's house and then started shooting.

The suspect is described as a man armed and dangerous, and authorities are unsure whether he was trapped in the burning house or managed to escape.

The motive for the act of arson and subsequent shooting is unknown, though authorities believe the suspect could be a man who was living in a house located in the back of the family's property and that, according to some reports, he might have been evicted. EFE