Published 6:32 PM EDT Sep 13, 2018
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Javier Cesarez had just gunned down five people at three locations, but when he hijacked a car to try to make his escape, he told his victims that he "wasn't a bad guy."
Then he let the carjacking victims, a woman and her children, go unharmed.
Kern County, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood recounted details of Cesarez' hourlong killing spree Thursday as his detectives tried to piece together a motive. The 54-year-old fatally shot his estranged wife and four others Wednesday before he killed himself with the same gun.
"There may be more than domestic violence, but we don't know yet," Youngblood said. Cesarez appears to have known all his victims, though the sheriff said detectives were still trying to determine all the relationships.
Youngblood said Cesarez, a legal U.S. permanent resident, had divorced his wife, Petra Maribel Bolanos De Casarez, 45, only about four months ago. They had three children, two of which were put into custody of their adult sibling after the shooting.
The incident began shortly after 5 p.m. at T&T Trucking on Manwell Boulevard in Bakersfield, a city about 90 miles north of Los Angeles known for agriculture and oil production.
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"We believe it's very possible the wife was forced to go to T&T Trucking with her estranged husband," Youngblood said. "We obviously can't ask them that. We're making the assumption at this point."
At the trucking company, Casarez confronted and shot his ex-wife and Manuel Contreras, 50.
Antonio Valdez, 50, was shot just minutes later on DiMiller Drive, after being chased by the shooter.
Casarez then headed to a home on Breckenridge Road where he shot and killed Laura Garcia, 31 and Eliseo Cazares, 57.
"We understand that there was a friend who lived there and obviously something had happened," Youngblood said. "He targeted him."
Javier Casarez then left the home and carjacked a woman on Fillmore Avenue, the sheriff said. That when he told the victim, "he wasn't a bad guy," Youngblood said, and let them all go.
Five minutes later, a deputy saw the vehicle being driven by a man who fit the description of the suspect, King said. They pulled over the car on Edison Highway, where Casarez killed himself.