A “catastrophic” mass shooting in the San Joaquin Valley city of Wasco, California, left five people dead Sunday afternoon, including the gunman and a deputy sheriff who responded to the 911 call of a hostage situation, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Monday.
Deputy Phillip Campas and Deputy Dizander Guerrero, members of the Sheriff’s Department’s SWAT team, were shot while approaching the house where the gunman was barricaded, authorities said. The deputies were trying “to extricate the victims inside, believing that they might still be alive,” a visibly shaken Youngblood said during a news conference.
“We believed from information we received from 911 calls, and the open line in the house, that there were people alive in there that needed to be rescued,” Youngblood said. “I believe we were correct in that assumption. That required a SWAT entry, probably the most dangerous thing we do.”
Campas and Guerrero were transported to a local hospital after being fired on. Guerrero was treated for gunshot wounds and released. Campas, 35, and a five-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The lengthy standoff continued after the lawmen were transported to the hospital. The gunman, whom authorities have not identified, was armed with an AK-47 and a handgun and shot through the windows at the SWAT team.
Then, at 6:28 p.m., when he left the house and began climbing onto the roof, “an additional officer-involved shooting occurred, and the suspect was struck,” Youngblood said. The sheriff did not say how many times the gunman was shot or who shot him.
When deputies were able to enter the house, they found three bodies: the gunman’s two sons, age 17 and 24, and their mother. Youngblood did not identify them and did not say what the relationship was between the gunman and the dead woman.
Four other people were able to escape the home, unharmed. Two other deputies were injured by shrapnel.
“It looks like a domestic violence situation. There was a restraining order,” Youngblood said, adding that the shooting underscores how “serious” domestic violence is and “how a restraining order is not bulletproof. Our hearts are broken because of the loss of a star in our organization. We also have three other victims we are mourning from the city of Wasco.”
Campas is survived by his wife and two young children, officials said.