Kern County on track to break homicide record

Homicide News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County is on track for a record total of people lost to violence this year. By our count, we’ve had 108 homicides. At the end of last year, we counted 140.

Kern County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the area of Cannon and Jastro Avenues Sunday night for a report of a shooting at about 10:30 p.m. They found 22-year-old Devontay Tywon Kelley dead at the scene.
His girlfriend Keiara Johnson was there when it happened, along with their 2-year-old son.

“We’ve been together six years. He’s my whole heart,” Johnson said. “And it’s all gone in the blink of an eye.”

Johnson says Devontay was an amazing father and they have another baby on the way.

“Now I’ve got to do my gender reveal with him being in a casket,” Johnson said. “All by myself.”

She says Devontay was out with her mother when conflict erupted with a group of people they knew.

“I don’t know why they jumped my mom, but they jumped my mom,” Johnson said “Devontay being who he was, he wasn’t going to let anyone hit my mom. So he called us.”

Johnson says she rushed over immediately. That’s when her life changed forever.

“I finally get everything calmed down,” Johnson said. “Devontay tells me ‘OK, let’s go.’ Me and Devontay are walking face-to-face, speaking to each other, and it all went from there. He was a good man, he didn’t deserve to go out like this.”

That’s when Kelley was shot and killed. KCSO arrested 25-year-old Javell Waddell in connection to the case, but Johnson says that’s not enough.

“There were more people there,” Johnson said. “I feel that justice will not be served, not only for me but for my children, until they’re all behind bars. He didn’t do anything to deserve this at all.”

She’s not alone in her grief. 17 News records show more than 100 people have been killed in Kern County so far this year. Data shows Kern County is struggling to contain gun violence. More than half of these deaths involved shootings, but there could be more. 17 News records show 30 causes of death are still pending, as authorities investigate.

The Bakersfield Police Department responded to 54 homicides this year, while the sheriff’s office saw 43, according to 17 News data. It’s not clear whether those agencies count officer-involved shootings, which are included in 17’s Homicide Tracker. The other agencies have just under a dozen spread between them. On average, the victims were just 33-and-a half years old.

It’s important to note that KCSO says about a third of its cases are unsolved, while BPD says 44% of its cases are still under investigation. The FBI says law enforcement agencies solved 61% of homicides last year.

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