Mesa murder-suicide leaves woman without mom, sister and brother: 'The only close people that I had'

A gruesome murder-suicide in Mesa has left a woman without her mother, her sister and her brother.

The crime scene was at an apartment complex near 8th Avenue and Country Club Drive. Police say officers responded to reports of a shooting at an apartment on April 3 just after 7:30 p.m.

Once at the scene, officers spoke to a man who called police. The man said he lived in the apartment with his 46-year-old girlfriend and her children, and when he came home from work, he found his girlfriend, her son, and her daughter dead.

Each victim was in a different room in the apartment. Their identities are Aide Popoca, 46, Ashley Popoca, 14, and Rafael Popoca, 21, who is believed to be the shooter.

Investigators say evidence at the scene is consistent with a murder-suicide.

"It appears that the male shot his mother and sister and then shot himself," Det. Richard Encinas said.

The tragedy has left Amairani Cruz without her mother Aide and her two siblings, Ashley and Rafael.

"They were just the only close people that I had," Cruz said. "I may not cry during the day or I may look like I’m OK, but when I get home, I just cry and cry because I know they’re not going to come back."

She says she wishes she recognized the signs of mental health struggles in her brother and did something about it.

"We just have to pay attention to the red flags, not ignore them because I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I'm going through right now," she said.

Cruz is asking the community for help paying for funeral expenses through a GoFundMe. She hopes those struggling with mental health use her story as a warning.

"The other person is going to have to pick up your pieces. Because, like I said, the pain that I’m going through, I wasn’t expecting this. I’m young, and I did not expect to bury three family members," Cruz said.

A GoFundMe to help honor the victims was set up by loved ones and can be found here:

‘Tragic. Very tragic’

The scene was unnerving for neighbors who awoke to see crime scene tape and a sea of police cars.

"Tragic. Very tragic. It also makes me wonder what else is around in this neighborhood," said Darell.

A sentiment echoed by another neighbor named Nicole.

"It’s really scary to know that’s happening in my neighborhood. I mean, I’m a young girl living with another young girl on a ground floor, so to know that’s happening around us is pretty scary," she said.

Unsettled that someone reportedly killed those he should have loved the most.

"Especially among family like that, you know. Mental illness was probably playing a role, and it’s just really tragic," Nicole said.

The investigation is ongoing.

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741.

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.

Area of the crime scene: