SAN JOSE -- An apparent Valentine's Day murder-suicide claimed two lives Thursday afternoon, when a man shot to death a woman he is believed to have been romantically involved with before turning the gun on himself in the bedroom of a Bermuda Avenue home, police said.

Police had little information about the involved parties on Thursday. They were called to the scene at 4:21 p.m., when a resident who lives at the two-story house across the street from William C. Overfelt High School heard shots fired upstairs and rushed into the room to find the couple dead, said San Jose police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

Investigators believe the man fired the shots. Dwyer said he didn't know the exact nature of the relationship between the victims, only that "we do believe there was romantic involvement." He said at least one of the deceased is believed to have been living at the home.

The roommate who called police was being interviewed at the police station Thursday evening, and "may be able to shed more light on what happened," Dwyer said.

Dwyer was hesitant to label it a domestic violence case, however, he said, "if you put it together, one male, one female, in a bedroom, on Valentine's Day, there's a strong possibility it's domestic violence related."

Tragically, the killings came as Santa Clara County released its annual report on domestic violence deaths and on the same day as "One Billion Rising" -- an event aimed at getting women across the globe to join in a rally against violence against women and girls.

In 2012, nine people died from six instances of domestic violence in Santa Clara County, according to the report released by the Santa Clara County's Domestic Violence Death Review committee -- a multiagency team encompassing police and the courts, health and social services and victim-advocacy groups.

"For victims of domestic violence, there is no Valentine's Day," said Steven Dick, a supervising deputy district attorney and the committee chairman. "Every day is a day of fear, of violence and control."

Although the 2012 statistics reflect a drop from the 11 incidents that yielded 17 deaths the year before, over the past 12 years, the domestic violence death toll has fluctuated anywhere from the three in 2008 to a recent peak of 21 in 2003.

Six of the nine domestic violence deaths in 2012 involved guns.

What led to the shooting at the Bermuda Avenue home remained unclear Thursday night.

Ba Huynh, who has lived in a converted garage at the home with his wife for more than three years, said he never ventured upstairs and does not know the three other people living there.

Neighbors said they see Huynh and his wife frequently walking around the neighborhood, but did not know anything about the other residents, who are in their 30s.

Huynh was on one of those walks Thursday afternoon. He said when he returned, "all the people were here," gesturing to police cars nearby.

The slaying marks the sixth homicide of the year in San Jose, coming a day after a teenager was stabbed to death near San Jose High School.

Dwyer said it was an "unfortunate coincidence" that the murder-suicide happened on Valentine's Day but added that holidays can trigger people into rash actions.

"We don't know what kind of problems were brewing that led up to this incident," he said. "Valentine's Day can be difficult day for people who are going through trouble in their relationship.

"Too often crimes of passion happen that could have been avoided. There was probably a trail of crumbs, signs leading to this showing that it could have been avoided."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.

domestic violence statistics
Six of the nine domestic violence deaths in Santa Clara County in 2012 involved guns. The other three involved beating, arson or pill overdose.
Three of the victims were driven to suicide. Four children were orphaned. Four of the deaths occurred in public.
The ages of the victims and assailants -- who were sometimes also victims -- ranged from the early 20s to past 60.
Three murder charges have been filed.
Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed 2,259 nonlethal domestic-violence cases last year.


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