"We’ve only had two prior homicides in the city in the first five years since we started the department, so generally, Tehachapi is a safe community,” says Tehachapi Police Chief Jeff Kermode.
He says the city's five recent shootings that left two men dead are very unusual for the city of nearly 15,000 people.
"We have little violent crime that occurs between people who don't know each other,” Kermode says. “In all these recent events we're talking about, they all involve the same circle of people, so we're not seeing random drive-by shootings.”
The first shooting happened September 23rd on West I Street where, police say, a gunman fired at a house. Five days later and one block over on West J Street, police say someone shot at another home. No victims were found in these first two shootings.
The third shooting happened the next day on Old West Ranch, south of Tehachapi. Kern County Sheriff's detectives found 45-year-old Larry Reagan dead on a dirt road.
On October 13th, police say a shooting occurred in the alley on North Curry Street, but no injuries were reported.
On October 18th, police say 54-year-old Jim Motts was found dead in his garage on Michael Avenue after being shot in the head.
"We're getting people spending less time in the county jail before they get back out on the street," Kermode says. “So, I think in all communities across California, we're seeing an increase in crime.”
The recent spike in crime is startling for local residents.
"It’s scary now from all the crime that's been going on. Tehachapi used to be where you could go to sleep and not worry about locking your doors,” says Jean Martinez, who has lived in Tehachapi since 1994. “But, now you have to have your doors locked and your windows closed because people come in and steal.”
Taneah Russell says she lives not too far from where the first two shootings occurred. She says she moved to Tehachapi last month from Mojave because she heard it was nice.
"So after all this, it kind of gives me a second guess on is this the place,” Russell says. “But, then, it's like crimes and killings are going on everywhere."
If you have any information on the shootings, call Tehachapi Police at 822-2222.