Alleged Wasco gunman twice accused of spousal abuse in 2020, no firearms found

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The alleged gunman in Sunday’s deadly standoff was twice charged with spousal abuse last year but authorities had no evidence he possessed firearms, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Jose Manuel Ramirez Jr., 41, had two misdemeanor cases pending against him when he allegedly shot family and SWAT members at his Wasco home. Five people were killed, including Ramirez.

In both pending cases, his wife told investigators Ramirez didn’t own any firearms, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said Tuesday. And deputies did not find guns inside the home, he said.

“Those incidents did not involve firearms at all,” Kinzel said. “Certainly there was no indication there were firearms present on those days.”

It’s unclear when or how Ramirez got the firearms — but it wasn’t through legal means.

Ramirez was prohibited from owning firearms as a convicted felon. Additionally, a criminal protective order issued in the second misdemeanor case said he must surrender all firearms and ammunition, Kinzel said.

Authorities didn’t know of any specific guns that Ramirez might own before Sunday’s shootout, the prosecutor said.

The others killed in the standoff were Deputy Phillip Campas, Ramirez’s wife, Viviana Ruiz Ramirez, 42, and sons Jose Manuel Ramirez III, 24, and Angel Manuel Ramirez, 17.

Ramirez Jr. had numerous criminal cases listed against him on the Superior Court website, the most recent ones stemming from incidents that occurred in March and May of last year.

On March 26, 2020, Viviana Ramirez told deputies an 8-year-old child in the home found a plastic baggie of what appeared to be methamphetamine and almost ate it. Viviana Ramirez wanted to throw it away but her husband twisted her arm and took the baggie from her, she told deputies according to court documents reviewed by Kinzel.

She said Ramirez Jr. entered a bathroom with the baggie. He left an hour later and appeared to be under the influence, Viviana Ramirez said according to Kinzel.

Ramirez Jr. fled by the time deputies arrived. He was ultimately cited, Kinzel said.

The second case stemmed from an arrest May 14, 2020. Viviana Ramirez told deputies her husband twisted her arm behind her back when she refused to let him in the car as she prepared to drive to work, Kinzel said.

Ramirez Jr. pulled her hair in an effort to grab her phone, she told deputies according to Kinzel. A then-15-year-old at the home intervened and Ramirez Jr. dropped the phone and went inside.

Viviana Ramirez called 911 and Ramirez Jr. was arrested and booked, Kinzel said. He was given a court date in June but never appeared and an arrest warrant was issued.

Kinzel said Ramirez Jr. didn’t make a court appearance until June 3, 2021, at which time he pleaded not guilty. The prosecutor said the circumstances that led him to finally appear were unclear.

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