Kern County sees 11 homicides in July, nearly half from Wasco standoff

Homicide News

UPDATE: A suspicious death on July 7 was later determined to be a suicide, and this article has been updated to reflect that.

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KGET) — Numbers can be deceiving. A glance at the 17 News Homicide Tracker will tell you there were 11 homicides in July, nearly the same number of people killed the year before.

But that number is “skewed” by the tragic standoff in Wasco that left 5 people dead, including the gunman. An analysis of the data showed 7 homicide incidents in July 2021, compared to the 14 incidents in July 2020 that left 15 victims dead.

On July 10, the Pinewood Glen Retirement Community was left in shock. 83-year-old Winnie A. Smith was allegedly shot by her longtime friend, Sandra J. Bonertz. Public records show the two lived together at the Community and even before they moved in to the complex. Bonertz is charged with murder.

On July 12, a man’s body was discovered at a vineyard off Peterson Road, betweening Browning and Driver Roads. The death was determined suspicious and Sheriff’s detectives responded to the scene for the investigation. The man has not yet officially been identified.

Also unidentified, a man whose body was found in the middle of a residential street. The morning of July 13, KCSO was sent to Stacey Street. It’s unclear at this time what wounds the man suffered.

The same day, the Delano Police Department responded to County Line Road and Patton Street and found 36-year-old Guadalupe “Lupe” Munoz. He had been shot multiple times in front of his own home, according to his 17-year-old daughter. She remembers him as being loving, caring and funny, as if “everything he said had to have a joke in it.” No arrests have been made in his case. Anyone with more information can contact the Delano Police Department at (661) 721-3377 or the Delano Police Department Tip Line at (661) 721-3369, to remain anonymous.

That weekend, tragedy struck Arvin. The night of July 17, 10-year-old Liliana Jimenez and her 12-year-old brother, Christian, were being dropped off by their father to his home on North Hill Street following a family party. According to Arvin police, two males, described as juveniles, pulled alongside the vehicle and opened fire. Liliana was killed, and Christian and her father were hospitalized. Their mother said Liliana always found a way to make people smile, and that the siblings loved each other. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Arvin police at 661-854-5583.

That jarring death was followed a week later by the Wasco standoff. Viviana Ramirez, 42, and her sons Jose Ramirez III and Angel Ramirez, were all allegedly killed by family patriarch Jose Manuel Ramirez, Jr. KCSO deputies responded to what appeared to be a hostage situation at their home on 1st Street, only for Ramirez, Jr. to kill Deputy Phillip Campas, who was part of the KCSO SWAT team. Ramirez, Jr. was eventually killed during the standoff.

Finally, on July 26, a woman’s body was discovered in the abandoned Desert Star Motel, a business that had been shut down for six months after a multi-agency human trafficking bust. At this time, the Bakersfield Police Department says the circumstances of the woman’s death are still unclear. BPD said the were called for a victim of an assault and found her body in the building. Anyone with tips for police can call BPD at (661) 327-7111.

By the end of July there were at least 78 homicides in Kern County, compared to 77 at the same time last year.

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