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Possible domestic violence motive after California rampage

EDITORIAL NOTE table of CONTENTS – This picture from a video of a deputy body camera, which by the Kern County, California, Sheriff’s Office, shows officers and treat others, Javier Casarez, 54, moments after he fatally shot himself during a confrontation in Bakersfield, California, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood Thursday identified Cazarez as the gunman who fatally shot his ex-wife and a man at a trucking company for the pursuit of another man, to kill him, and then drive to a house where he shot and killed a father and daughter in a nearly 40-minute rampage Wednesday. (Kern County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

LOS ANGELES – Detectives on Friday were investigating a possible domestic violence motive after a gunman shot and killed his ex-wife before killing himself during a nearly 40-minute rampage in Southern California, authorities said.

Javier Casarez fatally shot himself as a deputy closed in on him after the murders in Bakersfield, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Thursday.

Casarez, 54, shot his ex-wife and a man at a trucking company for the pursuit of another man, to kill him, and then drive to a house where he shot and killed a father and daughter on Wednesday.

Court records show a separation between Casarez and Petra Maribel Bolanos the Casarez was completed earlier this year.

In his petition for divorce filed in December, Cesarez accused Bolanos of cheating and asked the judge for his wife and sms messages from specific phone numbers. The judge denied the request.

Bolanos recently filed for a modification with child support and custody of the couple’s two teenage children, and the couple had a hearing set for Oct. 11, court records show.

Youngblood said it appears that Casarez targeted each victim, starting with an employee of T&T Trucking, and that domestic violence seems to have played an important role.

“It seems there is more than just a man and a woman quarrel because other people were targeted,” he said. “There is a reason for that and we need to find that reason.”

Researchers are looking to a or Casarez’s ex-wife had relations with Contreras or Valadez, the sheriff said.

Casarez probably took his ex-wife to the trucking company against her will and then fatally shot a 50-year-old Manuel Contreras with a .50-caliber gun, authorities said. He shot his ex-wife and then turned the gun on a second man, a 50-year-old Antonio Valadez, the sheriff’s department said.

Casarez fired at Valadez as he ran away, but then followed him in his car and killed him, the sheriff said.

Casarez, and drove to the home of 57-year-old Eliseo Garcia Cazares, Youngblood identified as a friend. Casarez fatally shot by Garcia and his daughter, the 31-year-old Laura Garcia.

“She may have tried to intervene to the defendant from approaching her father, and he shot and killed both of them,” Youngblood said.

After the shooting at the Garcia house, Casarez carjacked a woman driving with her child. The woman and child escaped, and Casarez drove on a highway where a sheriff’s deputy saw him, Youngblood said.

As the deputy closed in, yelling at Casarez to drop his gun, Casarez fatally shot himself in the stomach, according to the graphical body camera footage released by the police on Facebook.

The video shows deputies and paramedics work to save Casarez. Delegates look over Casarez gun and talk about how he would have had to reload during the rampage.

David Bunting, who said that he was a friend of Eliseo Garcia Cazares and lives two doors down from him, said he has no idea why his neighbor would be addressed.

He said Garcia was a self-employed truck driver who was always with his grandchildren, if they don’t work, often driving them around on his cart.

“He really is a nice guy. I can’t say enough good things about him,” Bunting said. “It is a bit of a shock, because of the nature of a person he was.”

He said that his daughter Laura was a mother of four, and that most of the Garcias’ large family was home at the time of the shooting. He said they are devastated and in shock.

He said Eliseo Garcia Cazares and his wife had four children, including a daughter who was killed in a car accident a few years ago.

T&T Trucking, where the first shooting happened, said in a statement that the company “is in a state of mourning.”

“We are very saddened and offer our sincere condolences and prayers to those who lost a loved one.”

Approximately 30 witnesses were interviewed by deputies, Youngblood said.

He said Casarez was a lawful permanent resident of the USA. The 50-caliber gun used in the shootings was legally purchased in 2004, Youngblood said. Casarez was arrested for the theft of the vehicle in the 1980’s, but he did not have a history of violent crime, the sheriff said.

Youngblood called the shooting devastating, especially for Laura Garcia’s children, who may have witnessed the death of their mother.

“These young kids, when they see this, that is something that will stay with them the rest of their lives,” he said. “But, officers … they are also not immune to these emotions. In which cases will stay with them their entire career, so this has a profound impact on many people in our community and in our department.”

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Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report.

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