San Diego

San Diego Woman, Marine Killed in Apparent Murder-Suicide

In the days leading up the fatal shooting, the Marine had threatened to kill himself several times, the woman's family told NBC 7

A San Diego-based Marine and his ex-girlfriend were killed in an apparent murder-suicide last week and the ex-girlfriend's family is wondering why nothing was done to prevent it.

Sgt. Massamba Diatta, 29, was found dead around 12:15 a.m. Oct. 3 along with his ex-girlfriend at the Red Roof Inn after the woman's 4-year-old son was found wandering the hotel lobby, according to the Houston Police Department.

Both had been shot and died at the scene, police said. While Houston authorities have not publicly identified the two victims, the woman was identified family members as Brittany Smith, 23.

The Marine was identified by Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego on Friday.

In the days leading up the fatal shooting, the couple had broken up and Smith moved to Houston to get away from Diatta, Smith's sister Bryanna Lapsley said.

"She came over here to get away and he didn't like that," she said. "He wanted her to go back with him."

Diatta had threatened to kill himself several times leading up to the shooting, Lapsley said. She is now wondering why no one took him seriously.

"They were talking on Facetime," she said. "He was telling her he was coming out her to get her and if she didn't go back with him, he was going to kill himself."

On Oct. 2, Diatta showed up in Houston. Smith took her son, who does not belong to Diatta, to the Red Roof Inn. Around 11 p.m. that night, a video of Diatta drinking and making threats appeared on Facebook.

"The only person whos' going to get out here alive is him," he said, referring to the boy.

About half an hour later, Houston police said the boy went to the hotel lobby and said his mommy had been shot. 

Houston police, however, have not formally said Diatta was the shooter. They are awaiting for the autopsy results to make that determination, a spokeswoman told NBC 7.

"I feel like I failed as a big sister because she came out here to get away," Lapsley said. "I was supposed to protect her and I didn't."

Diatta may have gone AWOL to visit Smith in Houston. The Marine Corps, however, would only say it was working with local law enforcement to resolve the matter. 

"Our deepest condolences and thoughts are with the families of all involved during this difficult time,” MCRD said in a statement to NBC 7. “We are cooperating with civilian and military authorities during the investigation to collect all the details of the incident."

Diatta was an infantryman who was assigned to the Recruiter School at MCRD in April. He was recruited from the Bronx in 2013 and promoted to his current rank on Oct. 1, according to MCRD.

He had earned a Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Smith's funeral is Saturday in Orange County.

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