Kern County ends January with 11 homicides, 10 in Bakersfield

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County saw 11 homicides during the first month of 2021, according to data from KGET’s Homicide Tracker. In 2020 there were 12 homicides, with one happening at North Kern State Prison.

But there is a difference: January homicides last year had happened across the county, in Bakersfield, Wasco, Delano, McFarland and a triple shooting that killed 3 teens in an area just outside Lamont. This year the majority happened in Bakersfield, mostly in Bakersfield Police jurisdiction. All were killed in shootings.

On Jan. 1, Oscar Ortiz Cervantes, 41, was shot outside a home on Rosewood Avenue in Bakersfield. No suspect information has been made available in his case.

The next day Ruben Vega, 34, was killed in a shooting on Oregon Sreet, also in East Bakersfield. Friends and family told 17 News Vega had been recently released from prison leading up the shooting. A car was seen leaving the area afterward, but the Sheriff’s Office has not said whether it is the suspect’s vehicle. No arrests have been made in the case.

And later in the evening, 45-year-old Luise Ramirez and 39-year-old Rudie Rene Casillas were both shot at the Vagabond Inn on Colony Street. Bakersfield Police have made two arrests in that case, Mario Velasquez of Bakersfield and Omar Uranda of Moorpark. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Bakersfield had another double homicide over a week later. On Jan. 10, Ramon Rodriguez Muro, 24, and Sierra Castilleja, 22, were both shot to death in the area of Custer Avenue and South H Street. Castilleja, according to a GoFundMe created for medical expenses, leaves behind 4 children. So far, no arrests have been made in the case and no suspects have been publicly announced by BPD.

Three days later there was another shooting in an apartment parking lot on Panama Lane, killing 30-year-old Mubarek Alnajar. Alnajar, who was on federal probation for his role in a synthetic drug-selling ring, was found shot in the head near a vehicle. A week later investigators arrested Darnell Lucifer Pierce, a man who 13 years ago had been accused of murdering a woman in 1999, and was acquitted.

On the evening of Jan. 15, two people were shot on Meeks Avenue, with the gunfire killing 27-year-old Vladimir Sanchez. Hours later, at around 5:25 AM on Jan. 16, 28-year-old Scottie Tripp was shot at an apartment on Taylor Street. And a day after that, 34-year-old Michael Gonzalez was shot on B Street in Arvin. No arrests or suspects have been announced in all three cases.

After those killings, Kern County saw 12 days without a homicide, but several assaults and shootings in-between. Then on Jan. 29, a man was shot in a parking lot near the Foods Co. on Haley Street in East Bakersfield. Bakersfield Police later arrested Adrian Sanchez, 31, and charged him with murder. He’s due in court Tuesday.

Anyone with information on cases investigated by BPD can call (661) 327-7111 to give tips. For KCSO, the number is (661) 861-3110. And for Arvin PD, it’s (661) 854-5583.

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