Family, friends of victims express shock following California mass shooting

Javier Casarez, who the Kern County Sheriff’s Office says fatally shot five people before killing himself Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, is seen in a photo released Thursday. (Kern County Sheriff’s Office)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Four families are mourning the loss of their loved ones following a deadly shooting Wednesday night.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood on Thursday released the names of the six people killed.

The five victims were Manuel Contreras, 50, Antonio Valadez, 50, Petra Maribel Bolanos de Casarez, 45, Laura Garcia, 31, and Eliseo Cazares, 57.

The sixth person who died was the shooter, Javier Casarez, 54.

Family and friends of the victims did not want to go on camera.

Neighbors of the shooter said he had talked about his divorce with his wife.

“I’d seen him last week when I went over to his yard and he seemed happy,“ Carol Gandola, one of his neighbors, said. “He came over to give his regards because I had lost my husband and he hadn’t been able to get over to see me and all of the sudden he broke down crying, because of his wife leaving.”

However, several neighbors said they never expected the situation to escalate.

"I just had a really hard time putting my mind around that he would shoot five people and commit suicide, it’s just mind boggling," Gandola said. “I’d seen him last week when I went over to his yard and he seemed fine."

Casarez, 54, filed for divorce on Dec. 13, 2017. The couple had been married for more than 28 years and had three children together, ages 18, 17, and 10.

"We are getting divorced because my wife cheated on me. I would like for the judge to grant me a subpoena for me to see the texts messages to whom my wife texted to," divorce records state.

Bolanos De Casarez claimed she could not read English, and had no knowledge of the divorce filing or her mandatory court date.

The divorce papers were sent to the home where they both lived, and Casarez kept them from his wife, according to court documents.

Once their April hearing date had passed, Casarez kicked Bolanos De Casarez out of their family home and then he moved into an apartment with their 10-year-old daughter. He also cut his wife and other two children off financially.

Bolanos De Casarez claimed she was "always walking on eggshells" in their marriage due to Casarez's "verbal abuse and very strict ways," court documents state. "If anything was out of place he would get very upset."

Aside from not being able to read the court order for her hearing, Bolanos De Casarez claimed, "It also took me some time to get over my fear and get the courage to ask for help," according to the documents.

She consulted with a family member and sought legal help requesting spousal and child support.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off