A Kern County Sheriff’s Department SWAT officer was fatally shot and three other people were killed in an hourslong standoff with an armed man at a California home, Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Monday.
The incident began Sunday afternoon when the sheriff’s office answered multiple 911 calls regarding shots fired, an armed male suspect and a loud argument at a home in the city of Wasco, located about 30 miles northwest of Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley.
After authorities arrived, a woman told deputies a man was inside the home with a gun and two to three people had been shot. Minutes later, the suspect shot at deputies from inside the house, Youngblood said. Deputies requested SWAT and at 2:53 p.m., they approached the home, attempting to reach the victims inside the house.
Deputy Dizander Guerrero and Deputy Phillip Campas were struck by gunfire while two others were wounded by shrapnel. Guerrero and Campas were transported to the hospital, where Campas died Sunday. Guerrero, a 10-year veteran on the force, was treated and released.
The SWAT team continued its standoff with the suspect, who fired out of the house at them, Youngblood said. At 6:28 p.m. PT, the suspect exited the home, climbed on the roof, armed with an AK-47 and a handgun, and exchanged gunfire with deputies. The suspect, 41, was struck by gunfire and given medical aid, but died at the scene.
A 42-year-old woman, a 24-year-old man and a 17-year-old male were found dead inside the home, Youngblood said. The male victims were the sons of the suspect and the 42-year-old woman, officials said.
There was a restraining order issued in June prohibiting the suspect, who the sheriff did not name, from possessing firearms. Two adult women and two girls escaped the home, said Youngblood.
“This is a chaotic scene,” said Youngblood, who added that it looked like a domestic violence issue. “Our hearts are broken because of the loss of a star in our organization but we also have three other victims that we are mourning, from the city of Wasco.”
Campas, 35, was a Marine who served as a sergeant in Afghanistan in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom and had many roles with the KCSO, including patrol deputy, honor guard member, and recruit training officer.
“We thought he was here for 10 years, he had that kind of impact. He was here for five,” Youngblood said.
“This was a star,” he added. “When you talk about police officers that run toward gunfire, that’s him.” Campas is survived by his wife and two small children.
Youngblood said 23 deputies are on administrative leave, “some that were not shooters, some that were close friends.”
Condolences from both the mayor and the district attorney’s office followed the shooting.
“My heart goes out to the families of both the deputies. Nothing can prepare us for tragedies such as these,” Mayor Garcia said in his statement, thanking first responders for their courage. “In an instant our lives can change forever. I pray that God surrounds these families with his love and gives them the strength to make it through this devastating time.”
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