LOS ANGELES — A man went on a shooting rampage in one of the major cities of California’s agricultural heartland Wednesday evening, killing his wife and four others before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
While an exact motive for the killing spree was not disclosed, Lt. Mark King of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said “there’s a strong indication” it was a case of domestic violence. None of the names of the victims or the deceased gunmen were released.
Gunshots rang out shortly before 5:19 p.m. when dispatchers received multiple calls about a shooting in the 600 block of Manwell Boulevard, King said. Arriving deputies found three victims, but the gunman had fled.
Fifteen minutes later, more calls came in about a shooter in the 9400 block of Breckenridge Road in Bakersfield, California, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles. There, two more victims were found — and again the suspect was gone. At 5:49 p.m., a woman said she was a carjacking victim and was able to provide a description of her vehicle.
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 in the 3300 block of Edison Highway. The suspect got out of the vehicle toting a large-caliber handgun but before he could be arrested, he turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger.
Among the dead were the suspect’s wife and another woman, King said, adding that detectives were continuing to try to piece together the episode, including questioning some 30 witnesses. He also said that other than the wife, he was unaware of the relationship between the victims and the suspect.
‘Human rights crisis’
The shooting occurred just hours after Amnesty International released a report, blaming the US government for allowing gun violence to become a “human rights crisis”.
According to the rights organisation, more than 30,000 people – the majority suicides or homicides – die each year in firearm-related incidents.
An average of 106 individuals died a day in 2016 due to gun violence, Amnesty said in its report, released on Wednesday.
Amnesty blamed the US government for not enacting regulations to protect American lives.
“Despite the huge number of guns in circulation and the sheer numbers of people killed by guns each year, there is a shocking lack of federal regulations that could save thousands,” Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.
Calls for stricter gun control were again amplified this year after mass shootings in Maryland, Texas and Florida, among other places.
Last year, the US witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s modern history after 58 people were killed at a music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada.