Six people are dead after a man in Bakersfield, Calif., went on a shooting rampage on Wednesday that began at a trucking business and ended about 15 minutes later with the suspect’s suicide, a local sheriff said.
“Six people lost their lives in a very short amount of time,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said during a Wednesday night news conference.
He added later: “This is the new normal.”
Youngblood said the shooting spree began about 5:20 p.m., when the unidentified suspect and his wife arrived together at a trucking business in an industrial complex in east Bakersfield. During the confrontation, the suspect fatally shot the man — then turned the gun on his wife, killing her too, Youngblood said.
When a male witness showed up, the suspect began chasing the man while firing at him, Youngblood said. The suspect shot the man to death outside of a nearby gun shop, the sheriff said.
A witness who was working in the industrial complex told The Washington Post he heard multiple gunshots ring out in a matter of minutes. He said he emerged from his business in time to see the suspect running away.
“It’s a big industrial area, so we hear loud noises all the time. I thought, what was that? Did a tire blow? Then I saw a guy with a gun, shooting,” said the witness, who declined to be identified. “I saw another man screaming, ‘Policía! Policía! There’s a crazy man with a gun!’”
The suspect fled toward a neighborhood, Youngblood said, and was headed toward a specific residence. When he arrived at the residence, the suspect fatally shot two more men, the sheriff said.
He then hijacked a nearby vehicle with a mother and child inside, and headed toward the highway. The mother and child were able to escape unharmed, Youngblood said.
A deputy pulled him over on a highway and confronted the suspect with his gun drawn, Youngblood said. At that point, the man got out of the vehicle and shot himself in the chest.
“Where we go from here is try to figure out why this started and why there are so many players involved in the connection, because obviously these are not random shootings,” Youngblood said.
Youngblood said he would consider it a mass shooting, saying that the string of shootings were “certainly” connected.
The Kern County sheriff said the motive was not immediately clear but that much of his department was working on piecing the shootings together. “Obviously there’s some type of situation that caused the husband to be completely upset,” he said.
Youngblood did not identify the victims or provide their ages, and did not identify the business where the shooting occurred. There are multiple trucking businesses in the industrial complex, some of which could not be immediately reached by The Washington Post.
More information is expected to be released Thursday.