California mass shooting tied to domestic dispute, say cops

Victims’ relatives arrive at the house that was the scene of the 3rd shootings that eventually resulted in 6 deaths in Bakersfield, California. (Reuters pic)A man went on a shooting rampage in California, killing five people including his wife, before taking his own life. Police said the shooting in Bakersfield in central California was possibly “a domestic violence incident.” / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON

BAKERSFIELD: A man who killed five people, including his wife, in California before taking his own life had been in the midst of a contentious divorce, authorities said Thursday.

“It appears that the suspect targeted each of his victims,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told a news conference in Bakersfield, where Wednesday’s deadly rampage took place.

He said the shooter, identified as Javier Casarez, 54, was in divorce proceedings and his wife had recently filed legal papers related to child support and property.

The tragedy unfolded after Casarez arrived at a trucking company in southeast Bakersfield at around 5.18pm, accompanied by his wife, Petra Casarez, Youngblood said.

The couple confronted a man at the business. Javier Casarez shot the man and then turned the gun on his wife and shot her. He then chased another man and gunned him down too, Youngblood said.

Casarez then went to a house where he shot a 31-year-old woman and her father.

Youngblood said Casarez carjacked a vehicle with a woman and child inside and let them go, telling the woman he was “not a bad guy,” before driving off.

He killed himself after he pulled into a business and was confronted by police, who released body-cam footage of the suicide from an officer at the scene.

Youngblood said Casarez told the officer he didn’t want to live before shooting himself in the stomach with a Smith & Wesson handgun.

It is as yet unclear how all the victims are connected to Casarez, authorities said.

The mass shooting is the third deadliest in the United States this year after a shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, in February that left 17 people dead and one at a school in Santa Fe, Texas, in May that left 10 people dead, according to data from Gun Violence Archive.