A man killed his ex-wife and four others across three locations near Bakersfield, California, before killing himself as a sheriff’s deputy confronted him, authorities said.
Wednesday afternoon’s shootings, which spanned 30-35 minutes over roughly half a square mile, appeared to be targeted attacks stemming from a possible domestic violence case, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Thursday.
Along the way, the suspect, identified as Javier Casarez, 54, stole a vehicle from a woman and her child but let them live, Youngblood said. He told the woman something to the effect of “he wasn’t a bad person,” Youngblood said.
“It appears to be there’s more than just a (former) husband and wife having a fight, because other people were targeted. There’s a reason for that, and we need to find that reason,” the sheriff said.
The shootings started around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday at T&T Trucking, where the gunman — after arriving there with his ex-wife — used a .50-caliber handgun to fatally shoot a man, Youngblood said. He then shot his ex-wife, killing her, according to the sheriff.
Another male then fled from the building, and the gunman gave chase, getting into his vehicle and driving to the front of a nearby hunting equipment shop. The gunman found that person outside the shop and killed him, Youngblood said.
The gunman drove to a nearby home, where he shot and killed a male and a female, the sheriff said.
He then hijacked a vehicle with a woman and child inside, but the gunman let them go, Youngblood said. He headed to a nearby highway, where he saw a deputy and pulled over into a lot.
As the deputy drew a weapon and confronted him, the gunman shot himself fatally in the stomach, Youngblood said.
Those killed were identified as Manuel Contreras, 50; Petra Maribel Bolanos De Casarez, 45; Antonio Valadez, 50; Laura Garcia, 31; and Eliseo Cazares, 57.
The gunman and his ex-wife had been divorced four months, and she had just filed for a new hearing regarding child support and property values, Youngblood told reporters.
Investigators aren’t sure about a motive, but it appears the former couple had some type of connection to the trucking company, and the shootings appeared well-planned, Youngblood said.
Investigators intend to question about 30 witnesses.