Manuel and Martha Garcia seemed like a normal couple, but she was leaving her husband for a new boyfriend – a sex offender convicted of rape.
So when Manuel Garcia, 64, opened fire on his 61-year-old wife and herboyfriend Raul Herrera, 51, of Fresno, in the parking lot of St. Alphonsus Church after Mass on Sunday, killing both, it exposed a marriage that was breaking up.
After fleeing to his home at 310 W. California Ave. in southwest Fresno, Garcia committed suicide by pulling the trigger on himself when police surrounded the home.
The day after the church shooting, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer revealed that Herrera was more than a new boyfriend – he was a convicted felon who was wearing an ankle monitor when he died at Community Regional Medical Center.
According to court records, Herrera was convicted seven years ago of forcibly raping his ex-girlfriend’s niece, 34, in Kerman. He was sentenced to prison and required to register as a sex offender. In September, he was arrested for failing to report a change of address.
It’s sad when you find out you were not as important to someone as you thought.
Manuel Garcia in Facebook posting
Dyer said the relationship between Herrera and Martha Garcia developed recently. She had filed for divorce, but continued living in the family home with her husband. There was no history of domestic violence involving the couple, he said.
Manuel and Martha Garcia had been married 42 years, and there was evidence Manuel Garcia was upset at the break up of their marriage.
Saturday, he posted on his Facebook page: “It’s sad when you find out you were not as important to someone as you thought.” He wrote in Spanish. The text was over a photo of an eye with a teardrop falling from it.
On Oct. 26, he posted a photo of a coffin with words in Spanish, translated as “the day I’m here, I won’t bother or make anybody angry.”
New details emerge
More details about the shooting were revealed Monday.
Dyer said Manuel Garcia had walked up to the car in the church parking lot. Martha Garcia was in the driver’s seat and Raul Herrera was in the passenger’s seat. He first shot his wife in the head and chest, then Herrera, also in the head and chest, then opened the door and pulled Herrera out of the car, Dyer said.
They always were very friendly, very outgoing.
Elena Rivera, neighbor
Martha Garcia died at the scene. Herrera was alive when paramedics got to him, but died at the hospital.
Before Garcia took his own life, he sent a text message to his daughter, who had called police.
“He offered his goodbyes,” Dyer said. “He told her he had just killed her mother, and that he was at home … and was going to kill himself.” He also told her where to find personal property in Mexico he wanted her to have, Dyer said.
Garcia was a truck driver who owned his own truck that he parked in his driveway, while his wife held a variety of jobs, friends said. They had lived at the home for more than 25 years and raised two boys and two girls.
Elena Rivera of Fresno said her brother married one of the Garcia daughters 20 years ago.
Rivera, whose mother lives next door, said there was no hint from the outside that the marriage was in trouble, and she was shocked to learn after the shooting that Martha had a boyfriend.
“They seemed like a nice, beautiful couple,” Rivera said. “We didn’t think this would ever happen to them. We were in shock and surprise at what happened ... They always were very friendly, very outgoing.”
Neighbor Andy Khan said the couple seemed happy,
“There was never any fighting with each other, no arguing, ever,” he said. “We feel very bad for the kids.”