Tulare homicide suspect shot victim multiple times, stood over him, sheriff says

Jorge Rivera
Jorge Rivera Tulare County Sheriff's Office

A Tulare County dairy farmer was shot to death Tuesday by a former employee who fired multiple gunshot rounds and then stood over the victim, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said at a press conference Wednesday.

The 26-year-old suspect, identified as Jorge Rivera, is in custody on murder charges in the slaying of Anthony Dragt, 56. The sheriff described a chaotic hunt by his deputies for the gunman after the shooting in the 10000 block of Avenue 352.

Boudreaux said it was not clear what led to the violent confrontation which ended after Rivera — armed with a shotgun, an AR-15 rifle and two handguns — gunned down Dragt. Rivera was hired to work on the dairy in May 2018 but was terminated after failing to show up for work.

Detectives pieced together incidents leading up to the shooting by reviewing video evidence retrieved from cameras near the shooting scene.

The videos captured Rivera, driving a black Chrysler 200, driving in the area about 1:30 p.m. as he asked for information about Dragt’s whereabouts, Boudreaux said. About 1:40 p.m., Rivera was seen at another dairy. At 2 p.m., Rivera was seen driving away from the victim’s house. Then, at 2:15 p.m., cameras show both Rivera’s vehicle with Dragt’s vehicle nearby.

After the shooting, detectives were able to use Rivera’s cell phone to track him southbound on Highway 99 to a Richgrove address, where several hours of surveillance were conducted. A traffic stop on Rivera was conducted at 9:15 p.m., and he was taken into custody minutes later.

Boudreaux said that Rivera’s previous criminal record included a drug arrest in Arizona in 2012.