A murder-suicide that left three children orphaned, including one who ran for help, stuns those who knew the couple.
Gerardo Tovar, 44, shot and killed Georgina Rojas-Medina, 41, his common-law wife, then turned the gun on himself, Tulare police said.
Their 4-year-old child went to a neighbor’s house for help and police were called early Sunday just after midnight.
Tovar owned and operated Cali’s Finest Detail and Hand Wash car washing service on East Tulare Street in Tulare.
Eduardo Zepeda, who rented a work space from Tovar and knew him for three years, said he does not know what prompted Tovar to commit the slaying and take his own life.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Zepeda said. “I was shocked. They were a happy couple. She was a very hard worker.”
Police said the 4-year-old was alone at the home on the 1600 block of West Capistrano Street when the incident happened, while two siblings ages 10 and 12 were at a relative’s home. All were turned over to Child Welfare Service, but Tulare police hope that they are given to the care of other family, Sgt. Andy Garcia said.
Rojas-Medina had two older children, now grown, from a previous relationship, friends said.
Frank Lopez, who works in Tulare in the home-building industry, said everything seemed normal when he visited Tovar at his home last week.
“I never knew he’d do something like that,” Lopez said.
Caity Meader, executive director of Family Services of Tulare County, said she did not know the details of the case, but such extreme violence often involves a history of domestic violence, mental health issues such as depression or substance abuse, access to firearms, and one party attempting to leave the relationship.
“Domestic violence is about power and control,” Meader said. “There is no greater loss of that than the victim making the choice to leave.”
Another murder-suicide was discovered Thursday in Goshen, where the bodies of Harrison McClard, 63, and Barbara McClard, 58, were found in a travel trailer they lived in.