Love tri­an­gle mo­tive sus­pected in Bak­ers­field

Man shoots ex-wife, 4 oth­ers, him­self in Bak­ers­field, po­lice say

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Han­nah Fry and Alene Tchekm­e­dyian

Author­i­ties are still try­ing to piece to­gether what led a gun­man to kill five peo­ple in a se­ries of shoot­ings be­fore killing him­self, but po­lice have iden­ti­fied the case as a “do­mes­tic vi­o­lence tragedy.”

Their di­vorce was fi­nal­ized months ago, but the cou­ple were still work­ing out fi­nal de­tails on how to di­vide their prop­erty and child sup­port for their two younger chil­dren.

By Wed­nes­day evening, some­thing had gone ter­ri­bly wrong.

Author­i­ties be­lieve Javier Casarez, armed with a weapon billed as the world’s most pow­er­ful re­volver, forced his ex-wife to go with him to a truck­ing com­pany in East Bak­ers­field be­fore car­ry­ing out a bloody ram­page over the next half an hour that would stun the com­mu­nity and leave six peo­ple, in­clud­ing the gun­man and his exwife, dead.

“It’s heart­break­ing; it’s shocking,” Bak­ers­field Coun­cil­woman Jac­quie Sul­li­van told The Times. “I would be very sym­pa­thetic with those in­volved in any place in our state, our coun­try. But it was very shocking to hear that some­thing like this had hap­pened in our home city.”

The in­ci­dent is the third­dead­li­est shoot­ing in the na­tion this year be­hind the Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School at­tack in Florida, which left 17 peo­ple dead, and the Santa Fe High

School shoot­ing in Texas, which killed 10.

Kern County Sher­iff Donny Young­blood told re­porters that the episode ap­peared to be part of a na­tional trend: “This is the new nor­mal if you look across the coun­try at these types of shoot­ings.”

The shoot­ings be­gan about 5:20 p.m. Wed­nes­day, when Casarez, 54, opened fire on his ex-wife, Petra Mari­bel Bo­laños De Casarez, 45, and Manuel Con­tr­eras, 50, in­side T&T Truck­ing on Man­well Boule­vard, killing them both.

A trucker at a neigh­bor­ing busi­ness heard pop­ping sounds. He fig­ured a tire had blown out. But when he went out­side, he saw a gun­man chas­ing an­other man — iden­ti­fied by author­i­ties as An­to­nio Valadez, 50 — and fir­ing a .50-cal­iber Smith & Wes­son 500 hand­gun.

“He was shoot­ing rounds at the man and chas­ing him in a cir­cle,” Manny Meza said. “It’s not some­thing I thought I’d ever see. This is not nor­mal.”

Author­i­ties said Casarez got in his car, fol­lowed Valadez to the nearby Bear Moun­tain Sports shop and fa­tally shot him.

Meza said other em­ploy­ees told him that the gun­man worked at T&T Truck­ing and sus­pected that his ex-wife was hav­ing an af­fair with one of his co-work­ers.

About 15 min­utes af­ter the first shoot­ings, author­i­ties re­ceived a call that Casarez had shown up at a home in the 9400 block of Breck­en­ridge Road and opened fire, killing Laura Gar­cia, 31, and her fa­ther, Eliseo Cazares, 57. Author­i­ties be­lieve Gar­cia may have been killed when she in­ter­vened to save her fa­ther. Po­lice have not said what the gun­man’s con­nec­tion was to the fam­ily.

Min­utes later, Casarez car­jacked a wo­man who was driv­ing with a child. Casarez told the wo­man he wasn’t a “bad per­son” and let her and the child out of the car be­fore he drove to Edi­son High­way, where he was spot­ted by a deputy, of­fi­cials said.

Casarez then pulled into the park­ing lot of an auto re­pair busi­ness that author­i­ties said is owned by one of his friends. When the deputy ap­proached, Casarez got out of the car and shot him­self in the chest.

Body cam­era footage re­leased by Kern County sher­iff’s of­fi­cials on Thurs­day showed the mo­ments be­fore Casarez fired the gun for the last time. A deputy, who also has a firearm drawn, yells, “Put the gun down!” four times be­fore a fi­nal shot sounds and Casarez falls to the ground.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are work­ing to re­con­struct the vi­o­lent se­quence of events and de­ter­mine a mo­tive for the at­tacks, the first of which was char­ac­ter­ized as a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence tragedy.

“The sus­pect’s dead and some of our key wit­nesses and vic­tims are dead,” said sher­iff ’s Lt. Mark King. “So it’s go­ing to take us much longer to try to put this to­gether and try to get a rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion.”

Kern County Su­pe­rior Court records show that di­vorce pro­ceed­ings be­tween Casarez and Bo­laños De Casarez be­gan in De­cem­ber and were fi­nal­ized in April. The pair had three chil­dren — one adult and two mi­nors — and Bo­laños De Casarez had re­cently re­turned to court for a hear­ing to de­ter­mine child sup­port and divi­sion of prop­erty.

Young­blood said author­i­ties have not de­ter­mined whether the court hear­ing was a cat­a­lyst for the shoot­ing.

“Some­times these do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases morph into some­thing re­ally bad and we want to find out how the other play­ers fit into that do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is­sue,” Young­blood said. “If you look at the time frame of when this oc­curred, from scene to scene to scene, it ap­pears to me to be very cal­cu­lated.”

Of­fi­cials said the for­mer cou­ple’s older sib­ling is car­ing for the oth­ers.

A study pub­lished by the Vi­o­lence Pol­icy Cen­ter, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that ad­vo­cates for gun con­trol, said there were 296 mur­der­sui­cides na­tion­wide that re­sulted in 663 deaths in the first six months of 2017.

The sit­u­a­tion most com­monly oc­curs be­tween two in­ti­mate part­ners with a man killing his wife or girl­friend, typ­i­cally due to a break­down in the re­la­tion­ship, ac­cord­ing to the study.

Felix Adamo Bak­ers­field Cal­i­for­nian

PEO­PLE gather near the site in Bak­ers­field where sev­eral peo­ple were shot and killed Wed­nes­day. Six peo­ple, in­clud­ing the gun­man, died in the ram­page, the third-dead­li­est shoot­ing in the na­tion this year.

Kern County Sher­iff’s Of­fice

THIS PHOTO from a deputy’s body cam­era shows Javier Casarez mo­ments be­fore he shot and killed him­self. Po­lice say Casarez had just killed five peo­ple.

Sam Mor­gen Bak­ers­field Cal­i­for­nian

“THIS IS the new nor­mal if you look across the coun­try at these types of shoot­ings,” Kern County Sher­iff Donny Young­blood said af­ter Wed­nes­day’s vi­o­lence.

AFP/Kern County Sher­iff

JAVIER CASAREZ killed five peo­ple, in­clud­ing his ex-wife, in the shoot­ings, po­lice said.


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